18 South and Central American Adventures for Travelers in 2018

2017 is almost over. It is time to begin planning your 2018 outdoor adventures. I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their recommendations for a 2018 outdoor adventure. I had a tremendous response and had to break up the responses by region. Keep a look out of my other 2018 region adventure lists. Here are 18 travel bloggers recommendations for South and Central American Outdoor Adventures in 2018. Continue Reading . . .

Viewing the Northern Lights with a Swedish Lapland Northern Lights Tour

Northern Lights, Aurora Polaris, Aurora Borealis, The Lights.  The Northern Lights go by many names but every Arctic travelers cross their fingers and pray that they will see this spectacular phenomenon dance across the sky. Seeing the lights comes down to location and luck. Mostly luck. I have been incredibly lucky to see the northern lights several times in Iceland, South Dakota, Alaska, over the Atlantic Ocean, and now in Sweden.  A Swedish Lapland Northern Lights tours is one of the best ways to see the lights. I got to see the Northern Lights in Sweden while on Scandinavian Photoadventures’s Northern Light Phototour. Continue Reading . . .

18 Asian Outdoor Adventures for Travelers in 2018

2017 is almost over. It is time to begin planning your 2018 outdoor adventures. I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their recommendations for a 2018 outdoor adventure. I had a tremendous response and had to break up the responses by region. Keep a look out of my other 2018 region adventure lists. Here are 18 travel bloggers recommendations for Asian Outdoor Adventures in 2018. Continue Reading . . .

A Year in Review – My 2017 Travels

I have traveled an amazing amount this year but I have only been on 4 international trips this year.  Of those four trips, only 1 was to a country I hadn’t been too before.  I did do an impressive amount of around the USA this year.  In total, I took 118 flights, flew 122,453 miles, and spent 284 night on the road.  This year has exceeded expectations in so many ways.  Up until this year, I considered my goal of visiting all 59 US national parks a pipe dream and after this year it hit me that I might actually finish by the time I am 30.  Without further ado here is my 2017 travel review.

January

Niagara Falls, Canada/New York

I rang in the New Years on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.  I took a long weekend and drove up to explore North America’s largest waterfall.  I took the elevator to the bottom of the falls as well explore the various barrels people went over the falls in.  For New Years, there is a concert in the park and fireworks over the waterfall. I explored the geological history of the falls and would love to see them when they are running at full capacity and not being used for hydroelectric power.   I had fun exploring the slightly less impressive view from the American side of the falls.

Monterrey, California

I had planned to spend the weekend at Redwoods National Park but the park experienced extreme flooding.  It was so extreme that one of the famous tree tunnels fell over.  So I adjusted plans and drove down to Big Sur (before the bridge collapsed) and stopped by Monterrey Bay Aquarium.  I toured one of the world’s foremost aquariums and had a relaxing weekend.

New York City, New York

This was my second trip to New York City.  This time was an emotional visit. I spend my Saturday at the 9-11 Memorial and Museum.  I was 10 years old when September 11, 2001, happened.  I can remember that day with total clarity.  The museum took me back to that day and allowed me to pay my respects to those who lost their lives.   On Sunday, I explore several of NYC’s National Park service units such as Ulysses Grant’s tomb.

February

Weekend in Iceland

I took a 3-day weekend trip to Iceland with my now ex-boyfriend (don’t feel bad, traveling together make me realize that it wasn’t working).   Despite the boy, I had a fun road trip along the south coast of Iceland.  I got to see Vik and go back out to the Ice Caves and just see how much tourism has changed Iceland in 3 years.

April

King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Park

I got to visit my 37th and 38th national parks during a weekend visit to California.  I had only planned on visiting King’s Canyon but it was April and the canyon park of King’s Canyon was still closed so after hiking all the short trails in King’s, I headed over to Sequoia and explored that park as well.  I hike out several of the amazing sequoia trees in both parks.

May

Acadia National Park

I drove 8 hours to spend a weekend in Maine or more specifically, Acadia National Park.  I drove up to spend the week in one of the most eastern points in the United States.  I enjoyed a rainy weekend exploring Acadia and doing a little hiking and eating lobster.  Overall, I felt underwhelmed by Acadia.  Still can’t explain why but it wasn’t just the rain that caused that.  I did get a pretty epic sunrise off Cadillac Mountain.

Pearl Harbor

I got the chance to visit Pearl Harbor twice.  The first visit was a quick stop on my way to the airport on Memorial Day.  The second stop was a full day exploring the World War II Pacific Memorial and the museums.  I was thankful I got a same-day ticket to visit the Arizona Memorial and paid my respects to the men and women who lost their lives on that day that will live in infamy.

A Snowmobile Tour in Swedish Lapland with Kiruna Guidetur

The bitter cold wind eats thru my balaclava.  I can’t feel my ears, but I can’t feel it as the Arctic Tundra passes by me.  I am driving a 600-lb snowmobile thru the wilds of Swedish Lapland near Kiruna, Sweden.  The powerful machine easily cuts thru the snow as we explore the lakes and forests.  I got a chance to take the Aurora Expedition snowmobile tour and Arctic Adventure tour with Kiruna Guidetur.

Driving a snowmobile is an exciting adventure when in Swedish Lapland.  Starting in mid-November, the snow becomes thick enough for snowmobiling, and the rivers and lakes have developed sufficient ice.  The locals begin grooming the trails.  These trails aren’t just for the tourists.  They are also the highways for people living in this remote region.

** All my photos are from my day snowmobile tour.

The Meeting Spot

The meeting spot for the tours is the Kiruna Guidetur office.  The office at Vänortsgatan 8, 981 32 Kiruna, Sweden.  It located in the corner of the main shopping square near the Kiruna in Swedish Lapland visitor center.  It was an 8-minute walk from where I was staying at the SPiS Hotel.

Kiruna Guidetur offers pick-up from the area hotels including the ICEHOTEL.  This cost 75 SEK (USD 9.01 as of December 2017) per person.  If you are within walking distance of the office, I would just walk.

What to Wear

Kiruna Guidetur will provide all necessary gear.  They have a dressing room full of snowsuits, snow boots, and gloves, read more on it.  They also offer thick socks and balaclavas.

I would wear a warm under layers such as thermal long johns and socks and then put Guidetur’s winter gear over top of your under layer.  They have a variety of sizes available and are sure to have something to fit you.

I highly recommend using the provided gear.  I found that even with the cold temperatures and the winds, I never got cold while on the tour.

Experience Required

No experience is required to drive a snowmobile.  You do need a valid driver’s license. As long as it is valid, it can be from any country.  They didn’t check my license, but they did make me sign a form saying I had a valid one and if I damaged the snowmobile they could charge me up to 6000 SEK.

Aurora Expedition Tour

This tour might have Aurora in its name, but it should be treated as night snowmobile tour with the possibility of seeing the northern lights.  No one can guarantee that the lights of the north will be seen. It depends on the weather.  I was unlucky and didn’t see the lights.  It was cloudy with light snow.  Do not expect to this to be a northern lights snowmobile tour.  It is possible and if you have clear skies then it is likely.

Check-in starts at 5:30 pm.  The tour leaves at 6:00 pm but the extra time is needed to get into the winter gear. My tour had three other people on it.  We got dressed in our snowsuits and snow boots.

Once we were dressed, it was a 20-minute drive over to meet our snowmobiles.  The trip was in a nice warm van with plenty of space for about 10-12 people.  Once we were out of the van, there was a chance to go the bathroom before we headed down to the Torne River.  The bathroom is warm.

It was a short downhill walk to the snowmobiles.  The sun had set about two hours before the tour, so it is dark, but the guide carries a light. Our group was going to use four snowmobiles.  The guide would have one, I had one, the other single female had one, and the couple was going to share one.

While waiting for the guide to get a few things together, we got to check out the igloos.  Kiruna Guidetur has an option to build your own igloo and spend the night in it.

We had a short safety briefing on how to use a snowmobile and safety concerns.  The key is to follow the tracks of the snowmobile in front of you.  This helps prevent a ski from getting stuck in the snow or hitting a rock and damaging a snowmobile.  The snowmobiles have hand warmers on the handlebars for both the driver and passenger.  The gas is on the left-hand side and can be rotated to either use your thumb or fingers to control the gas.  I preferred the fingers method.

Just like a car, one needs to leave enough following distance. I found that I preferred between 3-5 snowmobile lengths.  This gave me enough time to slow down when the guide stopped or changed speeds.  When turning, you need to lean slightly into the turn and keep your feet on the foot holders.  The snowmobile is designed to keep your legs safe and not get caught on anything like short trees.

Once we were settled on our snowmobiles, we headed off along the frozen Torne River to have a fun evening ride along the river and in the woods. The trip lasted about 2.5 hours.  I got up to about 40 km.  Because our group was small and we had fresh powder, we got to play in the fresh snow and do some serpentines.

When our tour ended, we hiked back up the hill to a small cabin.  Our guide started a fire, and we had some warm lingonberry juice along with cheese bread.  Our guide also gave us moose sausage, reindeer sausage, reindeer hearts, and a soy-based sausage for the vegetarian in the group.

I was excited about the moose since I have never had it.  In the USA, it is impossible to try moose unless you or someone you know hunts the moose.  I am not an organ person, but I took a leap of faith and tried it (it couldn’t be worse than fermented shark in Iceland).  The soy sausage was terrific, and I think my favorite of the snacks.

The Cost

Kiruna Guidetur offers both day and evening tours.  Their tours are comparable prices to others in the area. All tour costs are listed per person.

I went on the Aurora Expedition which costs 895 SEK (USD 107.54 as of December 2017) for an adult.  The Aurora Expedition with dinner costs 1275 SEK (USD 153.19 as of December 2017).

They also offer several day tours ranging from 3.5 – 8 hours with costs of 895 SEK (USD 107.54 as of December 2017) to 1395 SEK (USD 167.61 as of December 2017).  The day tours can explore the Torne River, go ice-fishing or visit the ICEHOTEL.

They have a couple of overnight tours as well that range from 2450 SEK (USD 294.37 as of December 2017) to 5675 SEK (USD 681.86 as of December 2017)

Have you ever been on a snowmobile tour?  Do you want too?

Disclaimer: Kiruna Guidetur provided a discount on Aurora expedition for this review, and I had so much fun that I paid for the Arctic Adventure tour on my own.   All opinions are my own.