Golf Equipment Shopping Bonanza

May 6, 2016

golf-driving-rangeThis year I started playing golf. I was invited to the driving range with a mate back in December last year and immediately got into the challenge of getting the ball into the air – a task that is much harder than it looks. My many years of playing hockey certainly helped but it still takes some getting used to hitting a golf ball.

By the end of the session I was pretty good at getting the ball airborne but useless at directing it towards the target – something that is relatively key in golf!

After a few more lessons with my mate at the range I could sense that I was getting pretty good and decided I was ready to take my skills to the course. Suffice to say it was probably a little early. I think I nearly killed a golfing patron when I shanked my second of the 1st hole.

Things steadily improved though and by the end of the round I had actually scored a par!!!

Well, I have been hooked on the game since and this weekend I went a little nuts and splashed out on some new gear. I’ve bought a brand new standing golf bag, a set of shiny new irons and a great big bloody driver! It’s actually called a Great Big Bertha! man can I hit the screws out of this thing.

Now that I’m all kitted and looking the part I have decided to bite the bullet and join my local club. All I need now is a handicap and I will officially be a golfer!

Quick shout out to the guys ad gals at Golf Assessor for sorting me out with gear. The reviews and recommendations where really helpful.

I look forward to seeing the chaps from the driving range on the course this weekend – planning to break 90 so you better have your A game on.

Yours in golf! Laters!

Island Peak vs Mera Peak – My Two Cents!

trekking-peaksSo you are thinking of taking on a Himalayan Trekking Peak and are considering Island Peak or Mera Peak. Here are my thoughts on which to choose.

This April I was fortunate enough to climb both peaks. We started our expedition after an amazing flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, Hillary-Tenzing Airport. Instead of heading straight up the Khumbu Valley, we veered right out of Lukla and down into the Arun Valley. Its quiet, remote and beautifully scenic in the Arun, seriously amazing part of Nepal.

Mera is one of the highest trekking peaks in Nepal, standing at 6,476m. It’s defining features are:

Some operators take you directly over the Zatwa La, which at 4250m, is a big pass to cross early on in your trek. We recommend skirting around this to improve your acclimatisation chances and return via the Zatwa La!

Or in our case we took on Amphu Labtsa, the 5845m technical pass that sits north of Mera and drops you via abseil into the Imja Valley.

From here it is a relatively short trek to Island Peak base camp.

Here are the defining features of Island Peak:

So which to choose? Both really, but if you are more of a trekker than a climber then I would definitely say start with Mera and then build up your confidence from there.

Hope this provides some useful insights!

BTW, we used Kandoo Adventures as our tour operator and they were amazing. Incredible guides!

Here is their Mera Peak excursion and here is there Island Peak expedition.

For information on both these websites check out this Mera Peak guide and this Island Peak guide.

Trekking options in Nepal

August 28, 2015

Everest-routes

The tiny mountain nation of Nepal is famous for its trekking industry. With its gigantic peaks and rugged landscape, Nepal is a great option for any hiker out there looking for an adventure. In this article we will look at some of the most notable trekking routes in the country, particularly within the Everest region and the Annapurna region.

Everest region

Everest Base Camp trek (EBC)

Drawing over 30,000 tourists a year, the classic Everest Base Camp trek is by far the most popular route for hikers in Nepal. The iconic route is full of ancient villagers, Buddhist monasteries and incredible vistas. Taking the route of Tenzing and Hillary, the trek takes you through Sherpa villages, past lovely cultivated land and up into the mountains proper where you can climb to the top of Kala Patthar and get the best views of Everest available in the entire region!

Gokyo Lakes trek

If you have some extra days on your hands then we would suggest hiking this route. Not only do you get away from the crowds, but you get the best of both worlds. Beginning on the same path as the classic Everest Base Camp Trek, the route diverges after Namche and heads towards the Gokyo Lakes on a circuit route. The beauty of this trek is that you’re not backtracking yourself like the EBC trek. The emerald green lakes are a true wonder of the Himalaya and should not be missed, as is the dramatic scenery around Cho La pass.

Annapurna region

Annapurna Circuit trek

This is the most trekked route in the Annapurna and is considered to be one of the best treks in the world! The varied geology and stunning vistas it provides are simply breath-taking. You’ll trek along rivers, through huge gorges, over ancient bridges and over the Thorong La pass at 5,416 meters! Remember to check out the local teahouses along the route as they are a fantastic way to speak to locals and experience some authentic Nepalese culture.

Poon Hill trek

This is an easier option than the Circuit trek and is great for either beginners or trekkers that are pressed for time and need something slightly shorter. The trek winds its way along river and through gorges before finally ascending to the summit of Poon Hill where you are rewarded with some incredible vistas of the surrounding region!

Annapurna Sanctuary trek

Slightly longer than Poon Hill, the Sanctuary trek takes you up over Poon Hill and then down into the deep valley where you trek along the ‘sanctuary’ – a majestic route with towering mountains on all sides. You then trek on towards Annapurna Base Camp where you get beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains.

Machu Picchu Routes – Ideas for your Trek

July 31, 2015

machu-picchu-routesMost people associate Machu Picchu with the iconic Inca Trail. As this was the original pilgrimage trail made by the Incas, it’s easy to see why. Whilst the Inca Trail is incredible and certainly well worth doing, there are other routes available to Machu Picchu. Whilst these other routes are not as iconic, they do offer up their own charms. Far less crowded, they do not require a permit and they also do not require you to be accompanied by a tour operator like the Inca Trail does.

Below we’ll have a look at all the route options available so you can choose what will suit you most.

There are three Inca Trail routes. Firstly, of course, is the ‘Classic’ Inca Trail which takes 4 days and covers a distance of 45km. This is the most popular and requires booking moths in advance .Be warned – there are a lot of steps!

Secondly is the ‘short’ Inca Trail. This is much shorter taking two days and covering a distance of 13km. This is a perfect option for the less energetic of hikers.

The third is called the ‘Salkantay’, also known as the ‘combo’ route. This is the longest route combining both trails together and takes 6 days with a distance of 65km.

Other Machu Picchu Routes

Below are other Machu Picchu Routes you can consider. Read more about each here: http://www.machupicchutrek.net/hike-to-machu-picchu/

Choquequirao Trek: 9 days, 69km trek. The Choquequirao ruins are incredible and should be seen if possible! This is a rare trek as it can be shortened or lengthened depending on how you’re feeling. As this is the longest trek up to Machu Picchu it is wise to hike it in the dry season from May to September.

The Lares Trail: 4 days. 33. This easy going trek is a great way to get away from the crowds and interact with the locals!

The Junge Trail: 4 days. 60km (cycle) 15km (trek). As the only cycle option to Machu Picchu this a fantastic trail for the thrill seekers out there. The downhill section of the trek is very fast and there is also the option of rafting and taking a zip-wire!

The Salkantay Trail: 5 days. 55km. Similar to the Lares trail, the Salkantay trail is fairly crowd free. The trek is considered quite difficult as it hiked at high altitude. The reward for this difficult hike is getting to see Nevada Salkantay.

Huchuy Qosko: 3 days, 20km trek. Short and easy going, this trek is ideal for the less fit amongst us!Ideally should be hiked between May and September. The trail has beautiful scenery and the Huchuy Qosko ruins are a must see!

The Vilcabamba Trail: 5 days. 62km. The toughest trail to Machu Picchu, Vilcabamba is for experienced backpackers and offers up incredible scenery!

Click here for a recommended Machu Picchu Trek Operator.

Getting ready to climb Kilimanjaro!

July 13, 2015

kilimanjaro-mountain-climbingSo you are planning to climb Kilimanjaro. That’s Awesome!

You probably have loads of questions. Things like: How do I get to Kilimanjaro? How fit do I need to be? Is it dangerous to climb Kilimanjaro? What are the main risks and how high is the probability of summiting? Which Kilimanjaro route should I take.

In this article we set out the main things you need to prepare to get ready to climb Kilimanjaro.

1. Choosing a route

There are 7 official routes on Kilimanjaro. Each offers trekkers something unique but some are better profiled for acclimatisation and summit success than others. What do I mean by that? Key to climbing Kilimanjaro safely and successfully is acclimatisation. This is the process of becoming accustomed to high altitudes where the air pressure is significantly lower than at sea level. Without proper acclimatisation you will likely experience altitude sickness, which is a potentially fatal condition. Key to acclimatisation on Kilimanjaro is choosing a route that gradually moves up the mountain in incremental stages that are spread across at least 6, ideally longer days. Equally important is not to rush or over exert yourself, and to ensure you stay well hydrated by drinking loads of waters. I recommend drinking at least three litres a day.

The three route that provide good acclimatisation options are the Lemosho route, the Machame route and the Rongai Route – each of these routes provide good climb high, sleep low profiles, which is great for acclimatisation.

2. Fitness

You don’t need to be a super star fitness athlete to summit Kilimanjaro, but you should be in good cardiovascular shape. This means you will need to do some training before climbing Kilimanjaro. I recommend a three month training regime that builds up your stamina through cardiovascular exercises in the gym, lots of long-distance (4-5 hour) hikes during the weekend, and some strength training for your legs and upper body.

3. Housekeeping

It is important that before you depart for Kilimanjaro you get all your administrative tasks in order. This means getting your passport ready and Tanzanian visa issued, get all your vaccinations (there are many nasties in Tanzania), get anti-malarial tablets and sorting our your travel insurance. Booking your flights early is also a great way to save money. Click here to find information on cheap flights to Kilimanjaro.

4. Getting to the top

Getting to the top requires loads of determination and grit. It is important to make sure you eat and drink well on the mountain as you will need the energy. Going slowly is also key to successfully summiting. Finally having a positive mindset, particularly when things get tough is a sure way to increase you chances of summiting.

For a recommended tour operator I suggest checking out these guys: http://www.kandooadventures.com/ 

 

The clothes to bring on a trek to Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Circuit

March 31, 2015

everest-base-camp-packing-listThe question of what to bring on a trek to Everest Base Camp or on the Annapurna Circuit is oft-asked. Your packing list must be carefully considered given that there will be a weight allowance when you fly to Lukla or Pokhara (see: http://www.taan.org.np/). Many people make the mistake of bringing too much stuff: there is nothing worse than carting clothing and equipment around for two weeks at altitude and not making use of it. You will feel even worse if it is a porter doing the carting. So here is a list of clothing for this trek that assumes the adventure will last for slightly more than two weeks.

Outer layers

Middle layers

Base layers

Footwear, because your feet are critical here

And do not forget the inner and outer gloves and wooly hat.

Adhering to this list will allow you to be comfortable on your Everest Base Camp trek

You can find more information on the Everest Base Camp packing list and Annapurna Circuit packing list here:

Should You Take a Sleeping Bag on the Inca Trail?

December 24, 2014

packing-list-for-inca-trailThe Inca Trail appears on many people’s bucket lists, featuring as it does breathtaking scenery and Inca ruins. It’s widely-regarded as one of the 10 best treks in all the world. It concludes at the lost city of Machu Picchu, whose image seems to grace every Peru-related brochure or travel book.

If you take the Inca Trail, central to your enjoyment will be your sleeping bag, in which you’ll be spending a large proportion of your time. Nights chill the bones, particularly in winter when the temperature can be below freezing and legend speaks of nights when it was below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be cold at night, whatever the season. The coldest night is the second, which is spent at the greatest height.

A warm sleeping bag will be required, and it’s highly-advisable to bring your own, although it will be one more thing to carry. A down sleeping bag will last forever more, compensating for its higher price, but a synthetic one will absorb less moisture and offer more insulation even when damp. A water-resistant shell will prevent a down sleeping bag from becoming wet. Down possesses a better warmth-to-weight ratio.

If buying is not an option, so long as you have no objection to being the latest in a long line of occupants, a sleeping bag can be hired from the trek provider with ten days’ notice, or more cheaply – $10 – from a multitude of establishments in Cuzco, however its quality will then be in the lap of the gods. You should closely inspect any bag you are considering renting. Apart from anything else, it is not unknown for bags to go unwashed or, even worse, undried between uses. Since there is a weight limit to your accoutrements, a sleeping bag should never be bulky – and cheap ones often are. It is wise to bring a sleeping bag liner to provide extra warmth and stand between you and that rented sleeping bag. Silk is more compact than thermal.

A four-season bag is much preferable in winter, although if you’re on a budget, you may be able to make do with a three-season bag and liner plus warm clothes. Roll mats will be provided, but you’ll be spending at least two nights on the bare ground so your comfort would be enhanced by a Thermorest-style mattress which is a much superior insulator and can be hired locally for $10. It should be borne in mind that there are different types for men and women.

Evidently, the decisions as to whether to bring a sleeping bag on the Inca Trail and what type to use are not to be taken lightly.

For a complete Ica Trail packing list check out this article!

Machu Picchu – A Brief History

September 19, 2014

machu-picchu-trekMachu Picchu, the 15th century Inca site, is the most popular tourist destination in Peru and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The site is thought to have been constructed in 1450 as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472), and was abandoned about a century later during the Spanish Conquest. The site never became known to the Spanish during the conquest and therefore one of the most intact Inca ruins.

Although known locally the site came to prominence when American historian Hiram Bingham discovered the ruins in 1911. Bingham erroneously thought he had discovered the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and thus, the title, is still to this day mistakenly used by tourists and tour operators.

Bingham had actually discovered the Lost City, Vilcabamba, earlier in his expedition but had thought it unimportant due to its size and state of preservation.

Since 1911, tourist activity to Machu Picchu has grown exponentially, reaching a peak of 400,000 visitors in 2000. Concerns about threats that tourism pose to Machu Picchu’s conservation has in recent years led the Peruvian government to impose stricter regulations on tourist access and activities.

Today the site is only open to 2,500 tourists a day, and permits to climb Huayna Picchu (within the citadel) is limited to 400 people per day.

The most popular route to the ruins, the Classic Inca Trail, has a limit of 500 permits per day (half of which go to guides and porters employed by trekkers). This means that booking onto a tour needs to happen early, particularly during the poplar seasons – May through September. In February the classic trail is closed due to the onset of rain. In fact in January 2010, heavy rain caused bad flooding that trapped over 2,000 tourists and local, who had to be air rescued.

Permit restrictions on the Classic Trail have led to alternative routes like the Salkantay and the Vilcabamba growing in popularity – despite being longer and tougher than the Classic trail.

These less travelled routes offer tourists quieter trails with equally good opportunities to view Inca sites and enjoy the incredible mountainous landscapes that characterise the Urubamba Province.

Click here to find out more about Machu Picchu Treks or read this great informational resource on Machu Picchu.

Mount Kilimanjaro Facts and Figures

August 14, 2014

mount-kilimanjaro-factsAre you looking for some of the most interesting Mount Kilimanjaro Facts and Figures?

Look no further. On this page I have tried to capture as many Mount Kilimanjaro Facts as I can. However, if you want to see the most comprehensive list I highly recommend the Mount Kilimanjaro Facts on this page.

First up, Mount Kilimanjaro is super high, but how high is it?

According to recent measurements the top of the mountain or summit stands at 5,895 meters or 19,371 feet. The highest peak is called Uhuru and is situated on a dormant volcano. In fact Mount Kilimanjaro consists of three conical peaks called Kibo (on which Uhuru Peak stands), Shira and Mawenzi.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and has the nickname – The Roof of Africa. To reach the summit means to stand on top of the Roof of Africa.

Mount Kilimanjaro is also the highest free standing mountain in the world.

The mountain is situated in Northern Tanzania. Two Tanzanian agricultural towns are located in the shadow of the mountain. they are called Arusha and Moshi. If you are going to climb Kilimanjaro you will start from one of these towns – in the foothills of the Kilimanjaro National Park.

Tanzania is an awesome country as it not only has the highest mountain in Africa but is also home to Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa, and Zanzibar.

I digress.

Back to Mount Kilimanjaro Facts.

Approximately 35,000 people try summit Mount Kilimanjaro every year. Only 45% on average succeed. Many people have to turn around because of altitude sickness.

On the Mountain there are 6 routes to climb to the summit. Three from the south – Marangu (which is the only route with huts), Machame and Umbwe. From the West you can ascend via the Lemosho or Shira Route and in the North East you can ascend via the Rongai route.

Treks are either 5,6,7 or 8 days. The more days you take the higher your chance of success as you can acclimatize better.

Approximately 3-5 people die on Kilimanjaro every year.

To find out more Mount Kilimanjaro Fact check out this page.

Kilimanjaro gear packing list

August 2, 2014

kilimanjaro-equipment-listIf go Google search “Kilimanjaro equipment list”, you will discover conflicting lists that contain varying line of items to take with you to Mount Kilimanjaro.

I know firsthand how confusing and frustrating this is – what should I take and what shouldn’t I take?

Below I have created the complete Kilimanjaro gear packing list for your convenience. You can get most of this equipment from mountain and trekking retailers like REI.

Kilimanjaro Clothing

Hand, Foot, and Headwear

Kilimanjaro Equipment and Accessories

Miscellaneous

Documentation

So that’s it for the complete Kilimanjaro packing list. You can find detailed reviews and recommendations on specific items on this website: www.climbkilimanjaroguide.com/kilimanjaro-kit-list/