“There are a lot of adventures out there waiting for us to live them!”
So last week I mowed the lawn.
In my 35 years of life I’ve never done this before (well this is debatable I believe I have, I was
asked told to do so once by my Dad when I was a teenager; my brother states I have not done it as he had been the one to take on garden chores).
It was very therapeutic, the sun was shining, so I got my Vitamin D dose, got a mini workout (I was wearing ankle weights whilst doing it) and finished with a real sense of satisfaction as I looked back at the tidy cut lawn.
Pre-C (I don’t want to mention the word) I doubt I would have ever engaged in such activity of my own accord and so it got me thinking about what activities I wanna try out once my adventuring ways can come back in full force.
Then I thought let me share with ya the adventure activities I have already got up to in all my years on earth. I had not really thought I had done that many until my last Spanish class, where the topic of discussion was ‘Turismo de Aventura’ (Adventure travel) and I was asked to list all I had done and my teacher went ‘wow you’ve done a lot!’ So let’s delve in!
The experience: Sometimes you get to try a new activity because you are attending your mate’s hen do (bachelorette party). It was a package hen do that was jam-packed and I got to try out a whole bunch of activities for the first time.
Location: I was living in Essex so I leased a car and made the 250 plus miles to the Lake District. Unfortunately, I don’t recall exactly where in the Lake District as it was back in 2013. All good adventures happen in the Lake District and its a stunning part of the UK.
Would I do it again?: Absolutely!!! I just need another opportunity to do it and improve my aim.
The experience: My first time of this was in one of my top 4 favourite places I’ve travelled to, with a company called Much Better Adventures. I was kitted up with a wet suit and helmet and got into the water and started getting carried away with the current, that the instructor had to grab me before I kept flowing away. The rivers of the Zupa Valley treated my body like an absolute rag doll, there were many times I thought this river is a beast! To be honest, I did not know at all what I was getting myself into and it’s a good thing too, as I would not have done it! When people would ask what is canyoning when I said I was doing it, I struggled my shoulders and gave a vague explanation. I laugh now because my explanation was abysmal! Sometimes it can be good not to know as you enter it fearlessly and go literally with the flow!
Location: Zupa Valley, Bosnia and Herzegovina – its landscape is so untouched. I am so glad I got to have this experience in this country and I so want to go back and visit there again.
Would I do it again?: I did, in Baños, Ecuador! Despite me being flung about I was like let’s give it another go. My canyoning experience though, in Baños was entirely different to that in Bosnia and involved a few scary jumps down waterfalls into rock pools.
The experience: This was another adventure that I went with Much Better Adventures (email me if you would like a discount code) and it was my first time joining a group solo. We explored a variety of different caves, some were more touristy than others and others we were crawling to enter and stepping in water. I was gowned up with a helmet and overalls. I had never known caving to be a thing, but it was fascinating to learn about it and meet people who had made a career discovering them and taking people down into caves. We encountered some bats whilst down there too. What made the trip amazing was the guide I had, Tic, who was immensely knowledgeable, friendly and when I could bike no more got me a lift off a local with his horse and cart.
Location: Rosia Valley, Romania – there are over 15000 caves in Romania and its an amazing place to learn about it. No previous experience is required at all to explore these worlds hidden below.
Would I do it again?: I’ve been lucky to go and visit the Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa, which is approximately an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. We got to see a cave lake which they have not been able to establish the depth of and probably never will as sadly in the quest to do so one of the divers lost their lives. I would love to go caving in the UK and I hope to do it with the group, Black Girls Hike.
The experience: So I suppose technically I didn’t canoe myself entirely but rather sat in the canoe and let someone do the hard work for me – so perhaps more of a mode of transport I took. I had my swimsuit on and was provided with a life jacket as I sat and took in the scenery and got to see up close the limestone sea caves that nature had created.
Location: Ao Phang Nga National Park, Thailand back in 2009 before the days of mass social media (all I had was a Facebook account). It included a visit to Khao Phing Kan which is also known as James Bond Island as it appeared in a James Bond film.
Would I do it again?: I would like to – up for recommendations as to where I should try out my bicep skills rather than let someone else do all the hard work.
The experience: I wasn’t sure to include this as an ‘adventure activity’ per se but I thought well it’s not something everyone necessarily does often, if at all. So I first went camping as part of my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition as a teenager. Now my teacher chose an absolute horrendous camping spot in a field infested with midges which ravaged my friends (somehow I escaped bites) and I hate insects. Although I had an awesome time with my friends overall, and one would call it character building, I was left hating camping.
Location: Lake District, UK
Would I do it again?: I was left so scarred by my first experience of camping as a teen I did not attempt until two decades later in my 30s! Last year I went camping TWICE, which was a shock to many of my friends but I was determined to do it in my adult life. I camped on my 3 day Santa Cruz trek in Huaraz, Peru sharing my tent with a Frenchman albeit lovely (the downside of solo travelling is sometimes you can end up with anyone in your tent) and the second time again in Peru on my Salkantay Trek to Mach Picchu, and sharing with a guy again! When I did it I just kept thinking ‘why are you doing this Tayo?’ My answer: an adventure is always worthwhile – the good and the bad.
The experience: This was activity number two on my amazing hen do in the Lake District – honestly it yielded so many laughs and fun, that it made me want to quit pharmacy and become a full-time girl racer as I donned overalls and a helmet, to take on the racecourse.
Location: Lake District, UK
Would I do it again?: I like the speed aspect to racing so I was bound to; I’ve done it on a work night out in London and also in Nigeria, where health and safety rules were highly dubious. They let my cousin race in her wedges which I personally did not deem as appropriate footwear.
The experience: It is difficult to pinpoint my first hike as I was a kid. To prep us for the Duke of Edinburgh expeditions my school ran their own programme, The Church High Challenge, which increased in intensity from Bronze to Gold. I completed all levels and by the time I got to Duke of Edinburgh and had my camping experience, I hung up my hiking boots and did not resurrect such activity until I was searching for Praia de Lopes Mendes, a beautiful beach in Brazil that can only be reached by hiking to it or getting a water taxi.
Location: Somewhere in the UK. In the UK there is an abundance of hiking trails and one can never fully exhaust it; Mount Snowdon alone has six hiking routes to reach the summit.
Would I do it again?: My hikes in Brazil kickstarted an activity that I never thought I would do so regularly (well regular enough for me, for a gal living in the city). Also that I would actually want to do it on my holidays. Its a great source of exercise, keeping trim and a release of happy endorphins once you see the views from your hike!
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In the words of my favourite author, Jane Austen: ‘The distance is nothing when one has a motive’ . I haven’t been on a hike since June and I’m sure my body is suffering from it. . Here I am hiking up to see Blagaj Castle in Bosnia which was one of my favourite adventures this year with @muchbetteradventures & @estadventure ! I, as usual, was at the back, sun beating down but I knew I would eventually make it because I mentally wanted to and my motive was to see the views from atop of the castle. With a motive in mind you will get there! . Have you ever thought about visiting Bosnia & Herzegovnia? Its a truly beautiful land and I would recommend exploring it with @muchbetteradventures for they really do take care of everything else; you just need to show up and have fun!! . . . . . . . . . . #the5to9traveller #muchbetteradventures #bosniaandherzegovina #blagaj #cornersofmyworld #mytraveldiary #balkanadventure #visitbosnia #girlvsglobe #womenwhohike #adventureholiday #ig_bosnia #starttheadventure #adventureseeker #janeausten #travelstories #blackgirlslayingit #ladiesgoneglobal #passionpassport #blacktravelfeed
The experience: I actually forget about my first time trying this out and was excitedly about to tell you all about my experience kayaking around the island of Lokrum (I still will) only to remember I first enjoyed kayaking with one of my best friends, in the UK in 2009. Ahh, that was a good time – how we laughed! I must have been truly fearless then given my poor swimming ability! What I love about this activity is the sheer sense of achievement of using your arms to get from A to B through the water. It is a reason I should really try out canoeing for myself.
Location: Falmouth, Cornwall
Would I do it again?: To this day this is one of my favourite activities to do in the water so if there is an opportunity to do so again I will! Again a hen do, exposed me to this experience as we went with a local guide in Croatia. And last year I got to kayak around the Galapagos Islands – seeing giant sea turtles, seals, penguins and blue-footed Boobies – honestly, that will stay with me forever!
The experience: Part of my caving, hiking and biking experience and this was a tough one. It was an uphill cycle and given I was not a cycling whiz nor in peak shape, I felt I was peddling and going nowhere so hence I ended up hitching a ride with a local as my legs just gave up
Location: Cutilor Valley, Romania
Would I do it again?: I have done out in Ecuador but cheekily going downhill on the mountain slopes of Cotopaxi and thus not fatiguing much but, cycling down can be a hazard as you can go at crazy speeds so I like a chicken had my brakes on a lot. Although I like go-karting, biking at crazy speeds feels like I’m less in control. I tend now to be up for city bike rides more as its flatter and more in my control. Perhaps if I got my fitness up I would take on bigger challenges.
The experience: Where else but in my backyard was I gonna try this out. Ok, I have an admission my friend did the punting whilst I at the front used a paddle to help a little when we were going off course. I’m convinced if I had been the one standing and punting I would probably fall in, even though I’m not naturally a clumsy person. I’ve probably watched too many comedy programmes and now think well that will be me in the river spitting out water!
Location: Oxford, UK – lived here for 3 years so I was bound to try it out here
Would I do it again?: Hmm, I did again on another hen do (yes I attend a lot of weddings in my spare time) but again I didn’t actually punt the boat. I think I would feel more comfortable if someone showed me how to do it and taught me the technique rather than gung ho trying it by myself. Anyone wanna teach me?
The experience: Activity numero tres of my amazing hen do in the Lake District. It was wet and muddy and yet altogether fabulous. It truly is one of the best hen dos I have been on and certainly adventure-packed! The guy showed us how to work the motors and then off we went.
Location: Lake District, UK – you really have got to visit here you can do SO much! There is a multitude of outdoor activities to get your teeth into, you don’t have to fly miles and miles to try things out.
Would I do it again?: I got to do it again in Morocco with my cousin with the Atlas Mountains as my scenic backdrop! If you ask if I wanna quad bike I will always say yes! I suspect this will be an activity to undertake when I make the trip to the Middle East – a region entirely unexplored by myself.
The experience: The beauty of booking with Much Better Adventures is that you can cram in several activities to try in one trip. Truth be told I had chickened out earlier from rafting out in Thailand in 2009, I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it, it all looked suspect when seeing the life jackets and the raft itself and I was, afraid of the water given my swimming capabilities. So my first time was nearly ten years later in 2018; I was still nervous. However, I absolutely loved it – it was thrilling!
Location: Zupa Valley, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Would I do it again?: So I had the opportunity to try it again out in Banos, Ecuador and I passed on it as the rapids of the rivers were quite challenging. I think, because of the risk of falling out and capsizing is quite high, I need to feel comfortable with the company providing the activity and the location of where I am doing it – so its a maybe.
The experience: This was in conjunction with my second canyoning experience. I again don’t think I would have done this if I knew the full details of what I was signing up for! The company I went with were very good and reassuring as they knew I was a big scaredy cat. Before we hit the rivers they showed us how to attach ourselves to the ropes, feet placement and how to rappel down alongside waterfalls and down rocks. To this day it is one of my proudest moments that despite my fear I overcame it and left enjoying it! I love that the guys at the company caught me on cam doing these crazy jumps so I can remind myself I did that!
Location: Baños, Ecuador
Would I do it again?: Absolutely!! Not sure where or when but will just make sure its with a reputable company with great reviews.
The experience: I signed up for this adventure weekend with the British Mountaineering Council last year and one of the activities was to try out rock climbing as a beginner, so I figured that because it was a beginner’s course, we wouldn’t actually climb real rocks we would start off indoors – WRONG! Are you noticing a trend that most of the time I have no idea what I am fully signing up for? It was hard and one of the climbs, in the end, I legit thought I was not going to make it to the top!!
Location: Peak District, UK
Would I do it again?: Yea why not! It gave me such a buzz and you really have to push yourself.
The experience: Ahem, well some of you may have read about my experience or seen my IG story about this. I was completely fearless with this activity until the last dune.
Location: Huacachina, Peru
Would I do it again?: Despite it all yes totally minus, the partially dislocated shoulder and root canal, post activity. I probably would avoid the steep dunes and go back to baby ones.
The experience: I almost didn’t do this. I fluctuate between telling people I can’t swim and that I’m a poor swimmer depending on what people are trying to cajole me into doing in the water that I’m not comfortable with. This was one where I said I can’t swim but it was important to my guide that I didn’t miss out on the experience so he attached a floatation device to his leg, gave me a snorkel and swam on my behalf so I could focus on snorkelling and observing the amazing sights of the Caribbean Sea. It is a memory that has stayed with me, due to his kindness and sheer strength dragging me along in the sea.
Location: Isla del Rosario, Colombia
Would I do it again?: I did, in and around the Galapagos but I have a confession, again the guide could see I was struggling to swim and use the flippers correctly so he took me by the hand and told me to relax that he would swim and I should just follow alongside him as he pointed out wildlife. I am forever grateful to him as I spotted stingrays, sea turtles, seals and an array of beautiful fishes. I’m noticing a trend so maybe I really should take swimming lessons to get over my issues that I have with some water-based activities.
The experience: This experience I think is where my love/hate relationship with water got cemented. I did learn to swim at school but not well and I rarely practised. So whilst on a summer pharmacy internship in the USA in 2005, I met a few Irish girls who asked if I wanted to join them in a surf lesson. Our teacher told us that should we fall off our board we should aim to fall off backwards…to this day I’m still mad at this ‘advice.’ It’s not like you can tell the water as it knocks you off, ‘Oh excuse me, I need to fall off backwards.’ I got knocked off, ended up under my board and as I tried to swim to the surface, I hit my head hard on the board and momentarily passed out, immobilised. Then I came to my senses that I was in the sea, not a swimming pool and I need to get my body back to the shore cos this wasn’t going to work!
Location: Nantucket, USA
Would I do it again?: So it’s another maybe – in Montañita, Ecuador, a surfing capital I chose not to partake in it. I won’t say I won’t ever but after the experience I had, I have currently no burning desire to try it out again. I suspect if I was a confident swimmer my attitude towards it would change.
The experience: If you are following me on my socials you would see that my last trip abroad was to Bulgaria with Wind Collective and Mount Noire, where I tried skiing for the first time. We had an amazing teacher, Janet with SankiySki School, who was so patient and attentive to how each individual needed to improve even though she was delivering a group lesson. Guides and teachers can really make a trip amazing. I rented my skis poles, boots and helmet from them and this was a perfect introduction to learning how to ski.
Location: Bankso, Bulgaria
Would I do it again?: Show me where I can sign up for more. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
The experience: My friend Chi made me zipline, she was so keen. Me not so much! I will say that I’m lucky to have done it in such a beautiful part of the world with all the luscious forest greenery. The scenery made up for my fear.
Would I do it again?: I doubt I will – I spent most of my time screaming and scared and even after it I didn’t have that sense of that was so amazing. I’m not a fan of doing things where my feet are unsupported and left dangling in the air; you would have noticed I have zero interest in adventure sports in the sky, like bungee jumping or skydiving.
Finito – phew what a round-up of adventures. Writing this has made me think I should probably really take adult swimming lessons and maybe just maybe I might consider paragliding. I have also learnt that, if I never tried any of these activities I would never know what amazing fun I would have, what release of pleasure these adventures would give me and how much I can push my body.
So I urge you when out in the world again throw yourself into a new adventure activity for your health and soul.
The Five to Nine Traveller