Fuerteventura Tez’s Much Better Guide to a Kayak Surfer’s Paradise

Fuerteventura a Kayak Surfers Paradise
Image for article: http://i49.tinypic.com/548umw.jpg
Grinding heavy reef breaks, ultra long left hand points or getting pitted at wedging beach breaks its easy to see the attractions of kayak surfing in Fuerteventura.
Bear in mind that this mid Atlantic rock is an island too, and it couldnt be easier for the travelling paddler to get around from setup to setup. This is just what I needed and I didnt waste any time booking my ticket.
Corralejo
Previously a sleepy fishing village now transformed into the main tourist hub on the island, Corralejo has a number of traits that make the town attractive to the wave rider.
A plethora of accommodation options are available with everything from self-catering to the more luxurious. The majority of digs are within walking distance of the main centre of town where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants. Youll be spoilt for choice for your evening down time away from the surf.
I chose a small self-catering apartment that was just a short stroll from the centre of town. It was basic, but ticked all the boxes I needed. Bed, bathroom, kitchen and a small amount of storage – perfect for the visiting wave head.
With waves in mind you couldnt be in a better spot. Right out front of the large Atlantico Shopping Centre is the main harbour with good waves to both the north and south.
Shooting Gallery is the more advanced spot, with Rocky Point being a slightly mellower affair although dont be fooled, the waves in Fuerte all pack a punch. Walking to these breaks from my accommodation took about ten minutes and, with a kayak trolley, lugging my gear was pretty easy.
Continuing on south you will find the famous set ups of Flag Beach and Glass Beach. Each are left hand point breaks that require hefty swells to break, although with a bit of breeze a moderate wind swell sometimes rolls onto the reef. It took me slightly longer to walk here and the tiring journey back after being pummelled by Atlantic waves was not welcome!
That said, the fact I could access all these spots on foot highlights how easy it is to get around this part of the island. And the stroll to and from venues was a nice warm up and warm down after my session.
If you become weary of getting battered by waves then the harbour in Corralejo will offer some flat water respite.
The northern track
Head across the opposite side of the island to Cotillo and you will discover a moderately-heavy beach break that dishes up fun shore dump type waves with lips that just beg to ridden.
Cotillo is also the gateway to the fabled northern track, which is notorious for both the potholed nature of the so-called road and the world class wave setups you will find.
Being mostly hard-core reef spots, youll need your wits about you and a high level of skill if youre going to attempt to conquer any of these waves be under no illusion, these breaks are heavy, powerful and demand respect!
I tried out a couple of gentler breaks in my kayak, which were still quite powerful. It took a while to dial in to the speed and hollowness of each wave but after a short time my confidence increased and I had a whale of a time.
As the swell picked up I decided to grab my surfboard, which is easier to manoeuvre, get out of trouble and handles beefier conditions. There was also no one else around and I was conscious of not getting into a spot of bother with no one to raise the alarm to.
Exploring the island
After a few days I decided to go exploring, knowing from previous visits that good waves are all over the island though the time of year you visit will ultimately dictate the quality of these.
Winter is when booming swells pummel Fuerte meaning that those quiet, tucked away waves usually spring to life, whereas summer sees smaller swells and windier conditions meaning shelter can be difficult to find.
If youre faced with this then you could consider some downwind paddling to get your water-based fix.
As Fuerte receives steady Trade Winds, this could be your saving grace during windy spells. Head off downwind using the breeze to help propel you and, with such an interesting coastline to explore, who knows what you may discover.
Whichever time of year you choose to travel to Fuerteventura, you will find some form of swell. You may have drive to find waves but youll score something. If you want guaranteed pumping conditions the winter is your best bet just be prepared for some solid conditions!
I managed to score something more or less every day. Head to Fuerteventura with an open mind and a pinch of optimism and you should be rewarded.
Tez Plavenieks is a well-travelled watersports fanatic and keen stand up paddle boarder. Youll often find him hitting the waves on the UK South Coast or anywhere else around the world. Tez writes for Sitons; a UK-based sit on top kayaking community site.

Grinding heavy reef breaks, ultra long left hand points or getting pitted at wedging beach breaks its easy to see the attractions of kayak surfing in Fuerteventura.

Bear in mind that this mid Atlantic rock is an island too, and it couldnt be easier for the travelling paddler to get around from setup to setup. This is just what I needed and I didnt waste any time booking my ticket.

Corralejo

Previously a sleepy fishing village now transformed into the main tourist hub on the island, Corralejo has a number of traits that make the town attractive to the wave rider.

A plethora of accommodation options are available with everything from self-catering to the more luxurious. The majority of digs are within walking distance of the main centre of town where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants.

Youll be spoilt for choice for your evening down time away from the surf. I chose a small self-catering apartment that was just a short stroll from the centre of town. It was basic, but ticked all the boxes I needed.

Bed, bathroom, kitchen and a small amount of storage – perfect for the visiting wave head.With waves in mind you couldnt be in a better spot. Right out front of the large Atlantico Shopping Centre is the main harbour with good waves to both the north and south.

Shooting Gallery is the more advanced spot, with Rocky Point being a slightly mellower affair although dont be fooled, the waves in Fuerte all pack a punch.

Walking to these breaks from my accommodation took about ten minutes and, with a kayak trolley, lugging my gear was pretty easy.

Continuing on south you will find the famous set ups of Flag Beach and Glass Beach. Each are left hand point breaks that require hefty swells to break, although with a bit of breeze a moderate wind swell sometimes rolls onto the reef.

It took me slightly longer to walk here and the tiring journey back after being pummelled by Atlantic waves was not welcome!

That said, the fact I could access all these spots on foot highlights how easy it is to get around this part of the island. And the stroll to and from venues was a nice warm up and warm down after my session.

If you become weary of getting battered by waves then the harbour in Corralejo will offer some flat water respite.

The northern track

Head across the opposite side of the island to Cotillo and you will discover a moderately-heavy beach break that dishes up fun shore dump type waves with lips that just beg to ridden.

Cotillo is also the gateway to the fabled northern track, which is notorious for both the potholed nature of the so-called road and the world class wave setups you will find.

Being mostly hard-core reef spots, youll need your wits about you and a high level of skill if youre going to attempt to conquer any of these waves be under no illusion, these breaks are heavy, powerful and demand respect!

I tried out a couple of gentler breaks in my kayak, which were still quite powerful. It took a while to dial in to the speed and hollowness of each wave but after a short time my confidence increased and I had a whale of a time.

As the swell picked up I decided to grab my surfboard, which is easier to manoeuvre, get out of trouble and handles beefier conditions. There was also no one else around and I was conscious of not getting into a spot of bother with no one to raise the alarm to.

Exploring the island

After a few days I decided to go exploring, knowing from previous visits that good waves are all over the island though the time of year you visit will ultimately dictate the quality of these.

Winter is when booming swells pummel Fuerte meaning that those quiet, tucked away waves usually spring to life, whereas summer sees smaller swells and windier conditions meaning shelter can be difficult to find.

If youre faced with this then you could consider some downwind paddling to get your water-based fix.

As Fuerte receives steady Trade Winds, this could be your saving grace during windy spells. Head off downwind using the breeze to help propel you and, with such an interesting coastline to explore, who knows what you may discover.

Whichever time of year you choose to travel to Fuerteventura, you will find some form of swell. You may have drive to find waves but youll score something. If you want guaranteed pumping conditions the winter is your best bet just be prepared for some solid conditions!

I managed to score something more or less every day. Head to Fuerteventura with an open mind and a pinch of optimism and you should be rewarded.

Tez Plavenieks is a well-travelled watersports fanatic and keen stand up paddle boarder. Youll often find him hitting the waves on the UK South Coast or anywhere else around the world. Tez writes for Sitons; a UK-based sit on top kayaking community site.

Inspired? Take a look at our Canoe and Kayak holidaysand browse all our kayak holidays in Spain.

Alpkit Big Shakeout coming soon…

Alpkit’s Big Shakeout is back again for another year, bringing together as many aspects of the outdoors as possible – walking, trekking, climbing, biking, music fun and games (and plenty of food).

The Big Shakeout is happening on the 12th to 14th October at Thornbridge Outdoors in Great Longstone in the Peak District.

As per last year, there’s a full series of events and activities going on, from MTB skills tuition for kids, lectures from adventurous people, circus skills, and local walks and rides.

Alpkit are also running their School of Adventure courses, delving a little deeper into a range of outdoor skills, such as rope safety and management, MTB photography, bushcraft and whitewater kayaking.

If all that adventure tires you out, there’s plenty of opportunities to grab food, beer and live music too.

The Big Shakeout is being run by Alpkit in association with Thornbridge Outdoors and River Legacy.

You can buy your weekend pass here – 45 for adults, 20 for under 16s and free for the under 3s.

Check out the video from last year’s event!

The Alpkit Big Shakeout 2011 from Land and Sky Media on Vimeo.

The Ecover Blue Mile

The Ecover Blue Mile is a great mass participation event designed to get you involved in raising money for the WWF and their work towards protecting our rivers and seas, whilst also helping you keep active! All they ask is that you travel a mile in or along a local water way, whether it be on foot, canoe/kayak or stand-up paddle board!

The flagship event, the Ecover Blue Mile, takes place on the 8-9th September in Plymouth, during their new Marine City Festival. You can complete your mile in any way you like, and can even enter an aquatriathlon, where you’ll swim, kayak and SUP all in one event!

The first event this year will be in Twickenham, at the Twickenham Alive Blue Mile, where you can kayak or SUP. Alternatively you can set up your own event, just get register on their site, invite your friends, and they’ll put your event on the map!

Below is a video from last year’s events, so have a watch, become inspired and get involved!

Review of Paramo Cascada trousers

In this kit review, Bob from Nature Travels tells us about the Paramo Cascada trousers, which he’s been using for the past couple of years.

Ive had my pair of Paramo Cascada trousers for about two years now. Convinced by a hillwalking friend of mine from Scotland who is a Paramo devotee, I bought them because I was frustrated with the various waterproof overtrousers Id had in the past, both because some manufacturers seem to take a very loose view of what constitutes waterproof and also because the need to carry the trousers separately, putting them on when it starting raining and taking them off again when it stopped and got too hot, especially when wearing muddy boots, was an irritation.

The Paramo Cascadas are different in that they are meant to be your only pair of outdoor trousers, doing away with the need for a separate rainwear pair. Ive used them regularly on trips to Sweden, Norway, Finland and Scotland in the last two years, including a weeks canoeing in the wilderness of Rogen in north-west Sweden, hiking beneath the midnight sun in northern Finland, whale watching in the Lofoten islands in Norway, bothying and hillwalking on Scotlands west coast, and dog sledding on the Kings Trail in Swedish Lapland.

The beauty of the Paramo Cascadas is, as the list of trips above illustrates, that they are suitable for both summer and winter use. They are warm enough to use as trousers over a base layer in milder winter conditions, such as for dog sledding in the Swedish spring winter in March and April or a late season bothy trip in Scotland, but are also perfect for a weeks canoeing and wild camping in the Scandinavian summertime. They have long zips down each side making ventilation a breeze (pun entirely deliberate). They are comfortable, durable, and being made from Nikwax Analogy fabric, can be re-proofed indefinitely with Nikwax, making them a sound environmental choice as well.

The Paramo Cascadas are not 100% waterproof (but then nothing is, really, except a plastic bag!), especially with the long zips I dont think they are designed to be but they can take a good amount of rain and dry very quickly, are comfortable and warm even after a good soaking and are now the only pair of waterproof trousers I ever use.

One small criticism Id have is that in hot conditions they are too warm I was up in the far north of Finland last year at midsummer, and took my Paramo Cascadas because temperatures at this time would normally be in the mid-teens. Unusually, it was almost 30 degrees most of the time and the Paramo Cascadas were uncomfortably warm even with full ventilation. Also using a standard knot for the lace-up waist results in the knot getting tight miss out the crossover bit at the start of the knot and do a bow only and youll be fine!

At around 110 (though I was lucky enough to buy mine at a discount for around 70) they are not cheap, but not overpriced either compared to other high-quality outdoor gear. If you maintain them through an appropriate cleaning and re-proofing regime, they should last a very long time, so are a good investment. Or do as a canoeing friend of mine does with all his outdoor gear and buy a pair secondhand on e-bay!

Overall, if like me you find having separate raintrousers a nuisance and want a versatile and durable pair of outdoor trousers which also keep the rain at bay, the Paramo Cascadas are ideal.

News photo credit; Nature Travels

Get off the High-Speed Tour Bus!

Get off the High-Speed Tour Bus!
By Laurel Angrist, The Travel Word
Youve seen them flocking together at every major tourist site: groups of travellers in bright Hawaiian shirts escorted by their tour guides, who lead them around like herds of cattle. Lumbering off buses, they brush sleep from their eyes for a 10- to 15-minute glimpse of whatever natural or manmade wonder they happen to see before them a thunderous waterfall perhaps, or the crumbling pillars of an ancient civilisation. Then, still snapping photos with their brand-new cameras, they’re wrangled back on the bus.
One hopes that one day these folk will realise this is no way to see the world, watching the landscapes whirr by instead of savouring the journey (http://www.thetravelword.com/2011/10/05/in-motion-local-transport-from-around-the-world/). The typical big-hits packaged tour characterised by buses speeding from one highlight attraction to the next misses out on the unexpected pleasures of slower travel (http://www.thetravelword.com/2012/02/07/what-is-slow-travel-heres-what-we-think/). Why not linger a little while to experience landscape from up close? What better way to get to know a place than to interact with the locals who live there? Group sightseeing by bus is a sleepwalkers holiday. You need to get off the tourist coach for some real adventure.
Get Wet and Wild in Estonia
Known as the land of the bogs, Estonia reveals its natural splendour inside Soomaa National Park (http://www.thetravelword.com/2010/06/19/theres-soomaa-ch-to-discover-in-the-european-ecotourism-hotspot-of-estonia/). Special footwear is required for bog-shoeing across this vast wet tract of land known for its abundant wildlife that includes numerous types of bird, wild boar and brown bear, all common residents of the peat bogs and flooded grasslands. The famous late-March ‘fifth season’ of floods is an ideal time for fully exploring the areas damp landscapes and raging rivers, as well as the nearby Baltic Sea and the Estonia Islands just offshore. Spot seals, beavers, lynx and more on a Sea Kayaking and River Canoeing Adventure (http://www.gunyah.com/sea-kayaking-river-canoeing-experience-soomaa-national-park-estonia-tours), with time spent both in Soomaa and in the Hiiumaa Islets Landscape Reserve.
Take off by Toboggan in Madeira, Portugal
Visitors to Portugals Madeira Island (http://www.madeira-hotels.travel/) have long been enjoying the high-speed trip from the hilltop resort town of Monte to the islands low-lying capital city of Funchal. This easy commute requires no gas-guzzling vehicles, however just a 10-minute ride via an old-fashioned toboggan. Steered by two men in traditional straw hats who use their rubber-soled boots as breaks, the toboggan ride (http://www.thetravelword.com/local-transport-animals-muscle-power/#madeira) has been a means of local transport on the island since as far back as 1850. During the two-kilometre trip, speeds can reach up to 48 kilometres per hour.
Horse Around in Mongolia
Since as far back as the days of Genghis Khan, horses in Mongolia (http://www.thetravelword.com/2010/07/10/horsing-around-in-mongolia/) have had a unique influence over the countrys history and culture. Mongol riders once ruled much of Eurasia, and horses remain central to the traditions of Mongolias nomadic tribes. In fact, the country today is home to approximately 20 million steeds, while the number of Mongolians is barely 2.8 million. Its little wonder why riding is still so popular throughout Mongolia, especially as the beauty of countrys vast steppes is best discovered on horseback (http://www.mongoliahotel-link.com/mongolia-tours). Departing from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, a six-night Horseback Adventure to Legendary White Lake (http://www.gunyah.com/horseback-adventure-legendary-white-lake-mongolia-tours) lets visitors take in sights that include ancient Mongol Empire ruins, petrified forests and rolling sand dunes all while sleeping under the stars in a traditional yurt-style Mongolian ger camp.
Cycle Away in South Africa
Two wheels are an ideal way to see the sights in the legendary Soweto district of Johannesburg, South Africa the colourful and vibrant neighborhood which helped usher in the end of the turbulent era of Apartheid. On Urban Adventures Cycle Soweto tour (http://www.urbanadventures.com/johannesburg_tour_Cycle_Soweto?aff=270), visitors explore the most famous landmarks and streets recalling the days of Apartheid. The seven- to eight-hour leisurely pedal passes Vilakazi Street, where Nelson Mandela once lived, and encounters many noteworthy sights from the historic 1976 student uprisings. Rounding out the trip is a pause for umqombothi (traditional grain-brewed beer) at a local shebeen (bar).
Sled Through Sweden by Reindeer
In the far north of Swedish Lapland, one local travel operator had the ingenious insight to combine reindeer husbandry with community-based tourism. Based in the village of Jukkasjrvi (which is also home to the legendary IceHotel (http://www.icehotel.com/)), Nutti Smi Siida arranges first-rate ecotourism trips (http://www.thetravelword.com/2011/07/29/nutti-sami-siida-leads-in-the-responsible-development-of-indigenous-ecotourism-in-swedish-sapmi/) that showcase the environment and culture of the regions indigenous Smi people. On a reindeer sledding tour, riders learn how to handle their own reindeer while driving a sled through Swedens snow-covered tundra. Along the way, time is taken to taste traditional Smi food, learn how to throw a lasso and become better acquainted with the four-footed companions. Why take the bus, when you can caravan above the Arctic Circle?

Youve seen them flocking together at every major tourist site: groups of travellers in bright Hawaiian shirts escorted by their tour guides, who lead them around like herds of cattle. Lumbering off buses, they brush sleep from their eyes for a 10- to 15-minute glimpse of whatever natural or manmade wonder they happen to see before them a thunderous waterfall perhaps, or the crumbling pillars of an ancient civilisation. Then, still snapping photos with their brand-new cameras, they’re wrangled back on the bus.

One hopes that one day these folk will realise this is no way to see the world, watching the landscapes whirr by instead of savouring the journey. The typical big-hits packaged tour characterised by buses speeding from one highlight attraction to the next misses out on the unexpected pleasures of slower travel. Why not linger a little while to experience landscape from up close? What better way to get to know a place than to interact with the locals who live there? Group sightseeing by bus is a sleepwalkers holiday. You need to get off the tourist coach for some real adventure.

Get Wet and Wild in Estonia

Known as the land of the bogs, Estonia reveals its natural splendour inside Soomaa National Park. Special footwear is required for bog-shoeing across this vast wet tract of land known for its abundant wildlife that includes numerous types of bird, wild boar and brown bear, all common residents of the peat bogs and flooded grasslands. The famous late-March ‘fifth season’ of floods is an ideal time for fully exploring the areas damp landscapes and raging rivers, as well as the nearby Baltic Sea and the Estonia Islands just offshore. Spot seals, beavers, lynx and more on a Sea Kayaking and River Canoeing Adventure, with time spent both in Soomaa and in the Hiiumaa Islets Landscape Reserve.

Take off by Toboggan in Madeira, Portugal

Visitors to Portugals Madeira Island have long been enjoying the high-speed trip from the hilltop resort town of Monte to the islands low-lying capital city of Funchal. This easy commute requires no gas-guzzling vehicles, however just a 10-minute ride via an old-fashioned toboggan. Steered by two men in traditional straw hats who use their rubber-soled boots as breaks, the toboggan ride has been a means of local transport on the island since as far back as 1850. During the two-kilometre trip, speeds can reach up to 48 kilometres per hour.

Horse Around in Mongolia

Since as far back as the days of Genghis Khan, horses in Mongolia have had a unique influence over the countrys history and culture. Mongol riders once ruled much of Eurasia, and horses remain central to the traditions of Mongolias nomadic tribes. In fact, the country today is home to approximately 20 million steeds, while the number of Mongolians is barely 2.8 million. Its little wonder why riding is still so popular throughout Mongolia, especially as the beauty of countrys vast steppes is best discovered on horseback. For an example of horse riding in Mongolia, why not check out Ger to Geror read about one man’s epic adventurehorseback riding from Mongolia to Hungary.

Cycle Away in South Africa

Two wheels are an ideal way to see the sights in the legendary Soweto district of Johannesburg, South Africa the colourful and vibrant neighborhood which helped usher in the end of the turbulent era of Apartheid. On Urban Adventures Cycle Soweto tour , visitors explore the most famous landmarks and streets recalling the days of Apartheid. The seven- to eight-hour leisurely pedal passes Vilakazi Street, where Nelson Mandela once lived, and encounters many noteworthy sights from the historic 1976 student uprisings. Rounding out the trip is a pause for umqombothi (traditional grain-brewed beer) at a local shebeen (bar). Why not find out more about cycling holidaysthat you could be taking part in?

Sled Through Sweden by Reindeer

In the far north of Swedish Lapland, one local travel operator had the ingenious insight to combine reindeer husbandry with community-based tourism. Based in the village of Jukkasjrvi, Nutti Smi Siida arranges first-rate ecotourism trips that showcase the environment and culture of the regions indigenous Smi people. On a reindeer sledding tour, riders learn how to handle their own reindeer while driving a sled through Swedens snow-covered tundra. Along the way, time is taken to taste traditional Smi food, learn how to throw a lasso and become better acquainted with the four-footed companions. Why take the bus, when you can caravan above the Arctic Circle?

Article written byLaurel Angrist, The Travel Word.

The Travel Wordis a blog that showcases responsible, sustainable and local travel. It is committed to inspiring mindful and independent travellers headed off the beaten path with local businesses making responsible and sustainable decisions about their destinations. The Travel Word is the online mouthpiece of the WHL Group, the largest local-travel company in the world.

Event Notice: The Patagonia Expedition Race 2012 begins!

This Valentines day 76 adventures, from 19 different countries have traded in their romantic meals for two for an expedition that will take through the remote landscapes of Patagonia. The Patagonian Expedition Race is a 360 mile endurance race on kayak, bike and foot, designed to raise awareness of the endangered wilderness in Chilean Patagonia.
The race begins in Punta Arenas from where competitors will the travel across the plains of Terra del Fuego, work their way up into the mountains of the Cordillera Darwin before finishing in front a 200m high glacier. Now in its 10th year, this race never fails to pushes adventurers to their limits. In 2009 an American team were lost for 3 days during the race and had to survive on wild berries. This year the race will follow the most remote route yet! The Patagonian Expedition Race is the race for adventure lovers!
Covers areas previously unseen by the human eye, The Patagonian Expedition Race aims to showcase the vital importance of protecting one of the most remote areas of the planet and the natural wonders that it possesses. Patagonia is an area of beauty that deserves to be protected and preserved.
Currently defending their title, throwing themselves into the adventure race and working to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the pristine area are the British AdidasTERREX team who claimed first prize at the Patagonian Expedition Race back in 2011. Nick Gracie, of the British team, has been making the most of the cold and snowy weather that Britain has thrown at us over the last couple, describing it as perfect training conditions for the race ahead.
If you want to find out more about the Patagonian Expedition Race and keep up to date on how the adventure racers are getting on visit the website.

This Valentines day 76 adventurers, from 19 different countries have traded in their romantic meals for two for an expedition that will take them through the remote landscapes of Patagonia. The Patagonian Expedition Race is a 360 mile endurance race on kayak, bike and foot, designed to challenge adventurers and raise awareness of the endangered wilderness in Chilean Patagonia.

The race begins in Punta Arenas. From here competitors will travel across the plains of Terra del Fuego, work their way up into the mountains of the Cordillera Darwin before finishing in front of a 200m high glacier. Now in it’s 10th year, this race never fails to pushes adventurers to their limits. In 2009 an American team were lost for 3 days during the race and had to survive on little more than wild berries. This year the race will follow the most remote route yet! The Patagonian Expedition Race is the race for adventure lovers!

Covering areas previously unseen by the human eye, The Patagonian Expedition Race aims to showcase the vital importance of protecting one of the most remote areas of the planet and the natural wonders that it possesses.

Currently defending their title, throwing themselves into the adventure race and working to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the pristine area are the British AdidasTERREX team who claimed first prize at the Patagonian Expedition Race back in 2011. Nick Gracie, of the British team, has been making the most of the cold and snowy weather that Britain has thrown at us over the last couple of weeks, describing it as perfect training conditions for the race.

With less than half the teams expected to finish, this is going to be one exciting race! To find out more and to keep up to date on how the competitors are getting on during the incredible race visit The Patagonian Expedition Race website. If you fancy getting stuck into your own multi-day adventure head to our activity holidays page and check out the trips on offer there.

Event Notice: Himalayan River Fest 2012

If you find yourself in Nepal from the 23rd to the 25th of November this year, you’d be hard pressed to find a better event that the Himalayan River Fest to visit!

Being in the Himalaya, the rivers are ripe for kayaking, canoeing and rafting. Many people travel to the area to take part in these sports, and often they rely on the expert knowledge of local Nepali guides.

The Himalayan River Fest is in celebration of the fantastic white water opportunities available in the area, races and competitions are open to all nationalities, with freestyle rodeo, slalom, down river and fun races all available. If you’re not keen on racing, then it’s still a great event to come to – you’ll be sure to see some spectacular kayaking!

The event has some fantastic aims associated with it though. Guides in Nepal usually earn around 22 per month – required to support themselves and their family. Training for, and maintaining the various certifications to keep you safe is incredibly expensive, and so the organisers aim to raise enough money to subsidise training courses for 12-20 Nepalese per year.

Kit for these sports is also very expensive – the Himalayan River Fest hopes to collect kit for the guides, to help them remain in the profession and stay safe themselves.

Finally, kayaking is not a recognised national sport in Nepal, despite the high calibre of participants and the opportunities for the sport in the country. This prevents funding to aid Nepali paddlers getting to international events. By putting on a strong competition, and holding meetings with the Ministry of Sport in Nepal, they hope to get the Ministry stepping in the right direction when it comes to kayaking in Nepal. Hopefully Nepal can then be represented in the World Championships or Olympics by 2016.

Oh, and let’s not forget, they also want to hold an incredible party too!

So, by going along to the Himalayan River Fest and supporting them, not only will you have a fantastic few days, but you might also play a small part in getting Nepali kayaking the recognition it deserves!

Want to start your search for a trip out there? Check out our Canoe and Kayaking holidays page! You should also check out GRGs Adventure Kayaking – one of the main sponsors of the event!

Inspiration for a year of adventures!

Now that the New Year has rolled in, the fuzzy head has cleared and you’re looking forward to a great 2012, it’s time to start planning your adventures.

With so many places in the World to visit, a massive range of activities to complete, and only 12 months to do it all in, we thought we’d put together a list of some of the best adventure ideas, month by month to inspire you.

All of them are provided by our ‘muchbetter‘ members, so you know that your adventure will have a positive impact on the area you go…

January – Northern Lights Wilderness Adventure

Experience the beauty of the Northern Lights on this multi-activity trip to Lapland. Cross country ski, snow shoe and dog sled amongst frozen lakes and untouched forests.

February – Winter Skills Snowhole Expedition

Instead of descending to the valley in the evenings of your expedition across the Cairngorm Plateau in Scotland, why not stay high and make the most of your time – sleeping in your own snowhole!

March – Ski Touring Holiday in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina might not be the obvious choice for a ski holiday, but the untouched wilderness is an experience not to be missed… Ski tour between the cities of Sarajevo and Mostar. Click here to see more ski touring holidays.

April – Marathon and Half Marathon Training on the Galapagos

You’ve got the New Years resolution to run a marathon, but the training has been cold and wet all spring… so why not treat yourself to this training camp in the beautiful surroundings of the Galapagos!

May – Klarlvdalen Kanot Canoe Tour

May has to be one of the best times of year to visit Sweden – it’s getting warmer, spring has sprung and the dreaded insects are only just waking up… These flexible self-led canoe tours are the perfect way to explore the Karlstad area of Sweden. See our canoe and kayak holidays page here.

June – Horse Trekking in Turkey

Run by Relief Riders, one of our muchbetter Pioneers, this is an amazing trip to Turkey, exploring the Cappadocia area on horseback. Along the way you’ll also be involved in some inspiring community based initiatives along the way.

July – Hiking Day Tours on the Peninsula of Trolls

Trolls?! Sounds intriguing! Explore this remote area of Iceland in July to experience the amazing scenery on offer. This area is as close to the Arctic Circle as you can get without actually being in it, but you’ll still be able to experience near 24 hour sunlight! Find more inspiring walking holidays here.

August – 1 or 2 week Surfariz

It’s the height of summer, Cornwall is experiencing a heat-wave, and the turquoise sea is as warm as it gets in the UK. So why not head down there for a week or two of surfing mixed with a bit of self-healing and relaxation through a range of alternative therapies. Follow this link for even more surfing holidays!

September – 2 Week Mountain Biking Adventure to Machu Picchu

Explore the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu on a mountain bike, whilst also visiting the hills around Cusco and the Incan settlements of Maras and Salineras. Lonely Planet author Katy Shorthouse and your local guide will tell you all you need to know about the fascinating culture. This link contains more info on cycling holidays.

October – Learn to Kayak in Nepal

Why not! With some world class whitewater, Nepal is a go-to destination for whitewater kayakers, so it’s also the perfect place to learn this amazing sport. This 4 day course is perfect for beginners to experts. Even morekayak holidays!

November – Learn to Dive with ReefCI in Belize

Diving gives you the opportunity to see a whole new world under the water… You’ll need to know how to do it though, so why not learn in the warm waters of Belize? You’ll also get the chance to be involved in some ocean conservation – protecting the ocean for your next visit! Find more diving holidays and marine conservation holidays here.

December – Snowshoeing in the Highlands of the Western Carpathians

What better way to finish off your year of adventures than a snowshoeing trip in Romania. It’s off the beaten track, so you’ll not bump into anyone else… T
he silence, empty forests and great local guides will ensure this is a trip you’ll never forget.

So there you have it – a year’s worth of adventure ideas. Your guide to making the most of 2012. We hope you’ll find some great ideas in here! There are so many incredible holidays on Much Better Adventures, we hope you’ll find what you are looking for. You can start your search from our Activities page, where you’ll find links to even more adventure ideas.

Rowers rescued as boat is capsized by freak wave on Transatlantic charity challenge

We are relieved to report that TeamTom (Tom Sauer and Tom Fancett) are alive and well having been rescued by a cruise ship after their rowing boat capsized.

TeamTom were rowing the ‘Colombus route’ from the Canary Islands to Barbados when their eight-meter boat was struck by an ‘enourmous wave’ which flooded their cabin.

After a 10 hour wait, the boys were picked up by the closest cruise ship (120 miles away). They are currently on their way to St. Maartan.

The following dramatic report just in from Tom Sauer provides a first hand insight into the events that unfolded on Tuesday evening:

“At 19:00 Tom and I were just ready to change for our shifts.

We had done a very good 12 hours, managing to fix the autopilot. The sea was rough, but not any worse than it had been for the past 5 days. Our lovely PS Vita was dealing very well with the waves, which were coming from behind and not causing any problems, but for a few splashes.

Tom got out from the cabin, as I climbed in. We encouraged each other as usual for the shift that lay ahead. I turned to look at the GPS to see the milage I had row in the last 2 hours, as Tom put his leash on.

Just as I went for the cabin hatch handle Tom Shouted “Sh*t Sh*t Sh*t” and a wall of water hit us, capsizing us immediately and flooding the Cabin. I managed to get out of the cabin, to find Tom holding on to the hull of the boat. Thank god he was leashed on and managed to hold on to the boat.

The wave that hit us came at a 45 degree angle and was enormous, we were truly very unlucky. Now in the water with darkness fast approaching we had to react quickly. We tried to self-right the boat, but because the cabin had filled with water there was very little movement. Waves were hitting us in the face, as we struggled to hold on to the inverted boat.

We realised that our only hope of survival was recovering the Life Raft, The Emergency Beacon Locator and The Grab Bag. We managed to get hold of the Grab Bag and The Beacon without too much trouble, diving underneath the inverted boat. The life raft proved to be more difficult. About an hour after our capsize I finally managed to dive under the boat, cut the lines the raft was attached to and deploy it.

Thankfully Tom had in the meantime recovered and set off the Beacon. By the time we got into the life raft it was pitch black outside. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible, but were both getting very cold as waves would continuisly bring in cold sea water. In the life raft we made sure that the Beacon was working properly and we set up a shift pattern, so that we would regularly check for ships.

The cold made it very hard for us to stay awake, but especially Tom made sure an alam would go off every 30 min and shake us into some action. At around 5:20 Tom saw the cruise liner and fired off a parachute flair, followed by a few more. The ship saw us and approached us carefully. The rough conditions meant that the ship did not want to deploy its own rescue boat and instead came along side, which was very scary.

We eventually managed to climb on with the use of a ladder. We are increadibly thankful for the staff of Crystal Cruise for saving our lives. Speaking for both we are both very happy to be alive and safe, but at the same time very dissapointed our adventure had to end so abruptly, especially considering we were doing so well in the race. After all our lives are the most important thing, no matter how competitive we are…”

The pair were taking part in an Adventure for Purpose – the Atlantic Charity race – in a bid to raise money for the Johan Cruyff Foundation and had been rowing for 8 days before the incident.

We wish the pair a very speedy recovery and best of luck with their donations.

Click here to visit their website and find out how to support their charity.

Want your own adventure, but don’t know where to start? Check out our activities page and go from there!

Wilderness Scotland release great new itineraries

Wilderness Scotland have just released some great new itineraries for 2012 with multi-activity, walking and sea kayaking covered, from the Highlands to the Islands!

The Ultimate Scottish Highlands trip is a great family multi-activity trip, lasting a week, based in the Cairngorm National Park. With a range of activities on offer, with experienced guides, you will have the chance to experience the Cairngorms in a variety of exciting ways. You’ll also be able to have some free time to explore yourself. This looks like it will definitely be one of the best multi activity trips in the Caringorms.

Scottish Sea Kayak Trail: South.The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail is Europe’s only long-distance sea kayak route, stringing its way down the west coast of Scotland. Wilderness Scotland’s Scottish Sea Kayak Trail: South trip is a great way to experience the southern end of the trail, from the Isle of Gigha to Oban. This 6 day sea kayak trip is accommodation based, with a range of beautiful accommodations next to the sea. You can also join it onto Wilderness Scotland’s other Scottish Sea Kayak Trail trip, to enable you to do the whole trail over 2 weeks – all 200km of it!

The Applecross to Ardnamurchan trip is sure to be a favourite. The 5 day wilderness walking trip takes you to some of the most beautiful walking in Scotland – from highland glens to sea views of the Small Isle of Eigg. Otters and castles are also on the viewing menu for the week! This walking holiday in Scotland also features my personal favourite place in Scotland – Torridon!

If you want to find out more about these trips, you can contact Wilderness Scotland directly through their company profile. Its also worth checking out all of their adventures, as there are plenty of other fantastic adventure holidays in there!

Working together with local communities in Ecuador

The spirit of Much Better Adventures is one that will be attractive to most adventure seekers. Although group tours and mass tourism is still widely available, many people are looking nowadays for more independent friendly travels. Much Better Adventures describes this as: Independent, individual and personal. Run by friendly people who share your passion for adventure, live locally, and know the best spots.
However the biggest challenge is how to find this trip. Most websites are still dominated by the big organizations who has a huge capital to spend on marketing (instead on the quality of the travel).
For me this was one of the reasons to start a travel organization in Ecuador, where I have worked as tour guide. I was surprised about the non-personal atmosphere of the trips and the distance with the local people. I set up an organization, named Go Local! that works together with locations owned by local people or run by a community. The same is for the activities that can be done; they are small scale and run locally or a possibility to visit a tribe.
The idea originated after contact with development organizations in Ecuador with a legitimate plan but without money for implementation. As well as the visits of local communities that had set up a nice tourism activity but no visitors. Knowing that in Ecuador there are still no affordable travels that make use of local initiatives, a liaison was made. With this concept travelers can explorer another Ecuador against a fair price. Moreover we support development projects by these special tours and travelers may visit the development projects during their journey.
To add local tourism at a program is not that simple as one might think. The locations for the trip are screened on accessibility (public transport), safety, comfort and price. But a place that looks well organized today can be dirty the next day. Support in management, ideas and marketing is highly needed. Another challenge is communication, as easy as we can send an email that difficult it can be for a community to get internet connection or even be reachable by mobile phone. Furthermore the setting of goals is a challenge. To improve a place to make it suitable for tourists is an activity with a lot of patience. Another important one is cultural differences. We clearly see that we have to translate our ideas and knowledge to get it understandable for the locals. They are thinking from their own setting or maybe the Ecuadorean but both can be very different than a Western idea, which is the final customer. You simply cannot just say a place has to be clean or comfortable, more description is needed. Positive about Ecuador is that there is already national tourism and this is the reason why there is already some good infrastructure. Where a national tourist want to have easy access, good radio and TV sounds, clear lights in the night ask a traveler for a more environmentally friendly and peaceful setting. This gives hope and opportunities to some community based locations that were neglected by the national tourist, but can be the perfect spot for the traveler.
All in all a bit of patience is needed but once things are running and you see the pride of the community which feels great. Go Local hopes that they can support these locations and be a benefit for them as well as for the traveller who want to find these spots with just a little bit of help. It is clear that the local initiatives need support from outside to get their business working. Go Local! is trying to give the community another platform to work as partners and to sell the product on their website. For us involving local tourism is not seen as a unique concept to charge high prices but as the logic standard. Another benefit is that the traveler can connect all the locations and create in this way a fully organized holiday. We have now realized trips to communities in the jungle, Otavalo, Nanegal, Cuenca, Quininde and Santo Domingo. At these locations you can share the daily life of the community and explore with them the surrounding. This can be working in the farmland or going for caimans. These trips can be combined with activities like rafting, surfing, mountain biking, hikes and mountaineering.
The most important chance of success for a local project is continuity and that is the aim for Go Local! In this way they are able to give the tourist the service that is needed and soon the project can run more and more on its own. Go Local! has written a special guidebook to make sure that the traveler can easily reach the local project. Because at the end you are you are looking for a better adventure but you are on a holiday as well.

With tourism being an important economic asset in Ecuador, Go Local!, a local member based in Ecuador, are very much involved in changing the way tourists see their country. Here Go Local! give us their thoughts on travelling locally.

The spirit of Much Better Adventures is one that will be attractive to most adventure seekers. Although group tours and mass tourism is still widely available, many people are looking nowadays for more independent friendly travels. Much Better Adventures describes this as: Independent, individual and personal. Run by friendly people who share your passion for adventure, live locally, and know the best spots.

However the biggest challenge is how to find this trip. Most websites are still dominated by the big organizations who has a huge capital to spend on marketing (instead on the quality of the travel).

For me this was one of the reasons to start a travel organization in Ecuador, where I have worked as tour guide. I was surprised about the non-personal atmosphere of the trips and the distance with the local people. I set up an organization, named Go Local! that works together with locations owned by local people or run by a community. The same is for the activities that can be done; they are small scale and run locally or a possibility to visit a tribe.The idea originated after contact with development organizations in Ecuador with a legitimate plan but without money for implementation. As well as the visits of local communities that had set up a nice tourism activity but no visitors. Knowing that in Ecuador there are still no affordable travels that make use of local initiatives, a liaison was made. With this concept travelers can explorer another Ecuador against a fair price. Moreover we support development projects by these special tours and travelers may visit the development projects during their journey.

To add local tourism at a program is not that simple as one might think. The locations for the trip are screened on accessibility (public transport), safety, comfort and price. But a place that looks well organized today can be dirty the next day. Support in management, ideas and marketing is highly needed. Another challenge is communication, as easy as we can send an email that difficult it can be for a community to get internet connection or even be reachable by mobile phone. Furthermore the setting of goals is a challenge. To improve a place to make it suitable for tourists is an activity with a lot of patience. Another important one is cultural differences. We clearly see that we have to translate our ideas and knowledge to get it understandable for the locals. They are thinking from their own setting or maybe the Ecuadorean but both can be very different than a Western idea, which is the final customer. You simply cannot just say a place has to be clean or comfortable, more description is needed. Positive about Ecuador is that there is already national tourism and this is the reason why there is already some good infrastructure. Where a national tourist want to have easy access, good radio and TV sounds, clear lights in the night ask a traveler for a more environmentally friendly and peaceful setting. This gives hope and opportunities to some community based locations that were neglected by the national tourist, but can be the perfect spot for the traveler.

All in all a bit of patience is needed but once things are running and you see the pride of the community which feels great. Go Local hopes that they can support these locations and be a benefit for them as well as for the traveller who want to find these spots with just a little bit of help. It is clear that the local initiatives need support from outside to get their business working. Go Local! is trying to give the community another platform to work as partners and to sell the product on their website. For us involving local tourism is not seen as a unique concept to charge high prices but as the logic standard. Another benefit is that the traveler can connect all the locations and create in this way a fully organized holiday. We have now realized trips to communities in the jungle, Otavalo, Nanegal, Cuenca, Quininde and Santo Domingo. At these locations you can share the daily life of the community and explore with them the surrounding. This can be working in the farmland or going for caimans. These trips can be combined with activities like rafting, surfing, mountain biking, hikes and mountaineering.

The most important chance of success for a local project is continuity and that is the aim for Go Local! In this way they are able to give the tourist the service that is needed and soon the project can run more and more on its own. Go Local! has written a special guidebook to make sure that the traveler can easily reach the local project. Because at the end you are you are looking for a better adventure but you are on a holiday as well.

Why not check out The Jungle Tour of Ecuador, Rafting Rio Jatunyacu, The hidden valleys of Chimborazo, Los Volcanos Ilinizaor Visit Los Tschilas?

Virgin Atlantic Low Carbon Fuel Breakthrough

Virgin Atlantic have announced today a ‘fuel breakthrough’ with news of a low carbon aviation fuel that will ‘halve the carbon footprint’ of the standard fossil fuel powered flights. Richard Branson said it is the most exciting news he has ever announced. A big moment indeed for sustainable travel, which leaves us with a few questions…

The story:

The carbon monoxide waste gases from industrial steel production will be captured and processed to convert them into liquid fuel suitable for use in aviation.

The revolutionary fuel production process recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, said Virgin. They go on to say ” it is scalable and sustainable” – the process can be applied to other metal processing and chemical industries.

A demo flight is scheduled for the next 12 to 18 months, with commercial flights between London, Shanghai and Delhi operational in the next 2 to 3 years.

Here is Richard Branson making the announcement:

The burning questions:

We think this is an excellent example of recycling – using waste gases that would other wise go straight into the atmosphere. It does leave us with a couple of questions however.

Is this really a halving of your carbon footprint or a doubling of the amount we can fly on the same carbon footprint?

How many flights are ultimately going to be fuelled this way, and will Virgin be sharing this technology and fuel with other airlines for the sake of the industry as a whole?

Is the airline the best place to be using this new/recycled fuel or would it better redirected to more wasteful and inefficient industrial sectors where greater net co2 savings could therefore be made?

What do you think about all this??

You may also be interested in:

low carbon travel resources, carbon friendly flight finder, and alternative to carbon offsetting.