Travel for Difference http://www.travelfordifference.com Thu, 25 May 2017 08:06:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 http://www.travelfordifference.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-Travel-for-Difference-JPEG-32x32.jpg Travel for Difference http://www.travelfordifference.com 32 32 111038251 LET’S TALK ABOUT SPACE http://www.travelfordifference.com/lets-talk-space/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/lets-talk-space/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 08:00:29 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5805 Have you ever stopped to wonder what lies beyond the midnight sky? Have you ever thought hard about the unknown of outer space? Or about infinity? There’s no doubt that space is something that many choose to ignore. It’s far too complicated to question, and far too obscure to even attempt to understand. But let […]

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Vibrant Milk way in the midnight sky surrounded by stars

Have you ever stopped to wonder what lies beyond the midnight sky? Have you ever thought hard about the unknown of outer space? Or about infinity?

There’s no doubt that space is something that many choose to ignore. It’s far too complicated to question, and far too obscure to even attempt to understand. But let me tell you, I’ve had some very deep thoughts about the universe… and what I’ve come to realise, is that it’s a very terrifying thing.

 

Image of space with faded milky way in the distance

I often find myself confused about the literal meaning of life (I know, I know, I just got really deep and I’m totally aware that I’m very odd), but I ask you to think about this for just a second while I attempt to put things into perspective for you.

I want you to imagine a bubble.

Inside of that bubble, there’s you – and outside of that bubble, there is nothing but the vastness of the unknown. Riding along in your bubble are billions of little creatures which continue to slowly eat away at your only being. They are insignificant to your livelihood, but you are very significant to theirs.

As you’re spinning around the darkness with no control of your direction, no idea of your whereabouts and no telling what is going to happen next, you begin to feel trivial to the great number of creatures that have decided to call you their home.

And instead of their lives being solely dependent on you, your life slowly starts to become dependent on them. The billions of little creatures are completely oblivious to the scale of mystery that surrounds them.. and surrounds you. You and your bubble could potentially pop at any second, and there’s unfortunately no way of knowing when.

You are Earth.

Milky way in space, surrounded by stars

You get it right?
This earth we call home is submerged in something that has no beginning, no middle and no end. It’s something that is completely unthinkable and inconceivable to the minds of the human race. But somehow we’re here, on a planet that has been orbiting for billions of years and now our existence relies on its survival.

We are all well aware that earth is very very very big; so big that it’s basically impossible to see every little piece of it before our time is up. So when you look out into the midnight sky, with the moon and the stars shining back at you, remember that life is a journey of an unimaginable scale… and there’s absolutely no controlling it.

We’re stuck on this tiny planet with hardships and responsibilities that often seem too big to handle. But as you look into the darkness of the sky, I want you to think about all of the problems that trouble your mind. And I want you to ask yourself… Are they really that big?

You were born here, you were forced into a life with a routine that had already been created for you – Your parents look after you, you go to school, you get a job, you procreate, you retire and you die (Sorry to sound morbid… but it’s the truth). With a few adjustments to this routine of life on earth, we each end up becoming incredibly stressed about things that are actually entirely irrelevant.

Here on this planet, we have the ability to see around 10,000 stars through our naked eyes. But in reality, there are a septillion stars spread throughout 100 billion galaxies that we will never have the ability to see. To put that into perspective, that’s a number of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Crazy right?

Those tiny shining dots are actually raging balls of gas over 4 light years away (or 9.5 trillion kilometres). So to sum things up, we are an extremely small portion of the universe, and even more insignificant in comparison to its scale.

We are essentially on a planet that is stranded in something that has no solid definition – there are conspiracies and ideas of what lies within the cosmos, but no one really knows. Strangely enough, our concerns here on earth most commonly lie around our weight and our burning financial income…

Sure, they may seem important in maintaining a successful future, but these are just aspects that our evolving society have inflicted upon us; we’ve essentially taught ourselves to worry about them. Ironic huh?

So instead of stressing about all of the superficial aspects of your life, you should definitely eat all the doughnuts, cake and chocolate… Spend your money on things you love and enjoy this very strange planet we’ve somehow inhabited – After all, we have absolutely no idea why it’s here, so you may aswell embrace it!

Very distant stars with blue hue

I’m going to leave you with this:

The human race could be entirely diminished before we’ve come to grasp the concept of outer space. The sun could spit us to the other side of the solar system and all of our worries would no longer have a purpose. We essentially have no idea what the universe is, why its existence has graced us, or how it has come to be how it is today.

So this is what I want you to do…

Shooting star through the black sky

Forget about your minor worries, and be open to the idea that this is a very strange journey that you will never understand. Don’t waste it with concerns that perish against the scale of the unknown.

Let your mind be open to the experience. It’s a beautiful, extraordinary and completely terrifying thing.

Watch my Starlapse here:

I want to know your perception of outer space – Does it scare you? Or does it bringing your comfort?
Tell me in the comments below!

love kate X

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Let's talk about Space

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BEAUTIFUL SKIES THAT WILL MELT YOUR HEART http://www.travelfordifference.com/magical-skies-melt-heart/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/magical-skies-melt-heart/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 08:00:17 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5777 Who doesn’t love seeing beautiful skies at the beginning and end of every day? Nature frequently puts on a magical display for us; one that is often filled with more colour and power than what the mind can comprehend. Sunrise and sunset are essentially a natural clock, telling the world when to rise and when […]

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Huge sun above the ocean

Who doesn’t love seeing beautiful skies at the beginning and end of every day?

Nature frequently puts on a magical display for us; one that is often filled with more colour and power than what the mind can comprehend.

Sunrise and sunset are essentially a natural clock, telling the world when to rise and when to fall. Sadly, these two times of day are often taken for granted, but when you stop and think about it… It’s mother nature giving us a free show!

After all, “sunsets are proof that endings can be beautiful too” (Beau Taplin) – We shouldn’t just let them pass on by, right?

Here are a few of the magical skies that I’ve captured around the world. I hope they brighten your day, just as they did mine!

 

Blue and Yellow sunrise over the outback and trees Yellow sunset steaming below the ocean Palm trees infront of palm sunset with sun shining through Woman in the corner taking image, infront of outback grass and sunset A very bright sunset above the outback Vibrant yellow sun shining through the fog Orange sun shining over the horizon - behind the beach Very bright sunset above a marina Pink and blue sky with arch rock formation below Yellow sun shining over the ocean, with palm trees and white sand beach in the foreground Dark blue sunrise through rain clouds, over the ocean Plane engine flying above the orange sunset and clouds Sun star with house in the foreground Grassy plains and Australian trees below a vibrant sunset Bright orange sunset over ocean Pink clouds above an Australian farm Tall, leaning palm tree on the beach with yellow clouds in the distance Pink sun peeking through the clouds before disappearing in the horizon

In which country have you seen the most magical sunset?

love kate X

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Magical Skies (Beautiful Skies) that will Melt your Heart

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18 THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN MY EARLY 20’S http://www.travelfordifference.com/18-things-learned-early-20s/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/18-things-learned-early-20s/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 07:30:49 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5747 Over the last few years, I’d like to think that I’ve transitioned from a confused teen, to an entirely self-functioning adult in her early 20’s. At this point, I’m approaching 22; so when I say that I’m in my early 20’s… I actually mean it. If I look back a few short years, my late […]

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Girl looking towards vivid sunset

Over the last few years, I’d like to think that I’ve transitioned from a confused teen, to an entirely self-functioning adult in her early 20’s.

At this point, I’m approaching 22; so when I say that I’m in my early 20’s… I actually mean it. If I look back a few short years, my late teenage life was actually very different to the life I now live – Not so much in a literal sense, but in my opinions, perspectives and morals… The more I think about it, the more I realise that I’m basically a whole new person.

It’s been a few years of self-discovery, finding my place and recognizing what’s truly important to me – And here’s exactly what I’ve learnt.

 

It’s Okay to not be Okay

One of the bravest things you can do is to tell yourself that you’re not okay. As much as it is deemed as a sign of weakness, it is merely a sign of strength.

Success is not Financial

This is one that I’ve gradually learnt throughout my entire life. But over the last few years, it’s really become clear to me that money will never buy my happiness or success; likewise that my success will never be depicted by my career. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to really understand that filling your wallet is insignificant if you’re yet to fill your heart.

Popularity is Irrelevant

I’ve never been one to care about popularity, but when I was in school, there were a few aspects that I absolutely loathed – the drama that came along with social hierarchy, the constant fight for popularity, and the very toxic environment mixed with the need for inferiority.

It didn’t take me long to realise that having a few friends that care about you is much more important than having a lot that don’t.

Gender and Sexuality are ill-defined

Being masculine is not defined by a muscular physique, an arrogant attitude or attracting a lot of women.
Being feminine is not defined by a curvaceous figure, pink frilly clothing or wearing a lot of makeup.

Gender and sexuality have no single definition – nor should you ever let it define you.

Stereotypes are Misleading

Stereotypes are essentially judging someone based on a complete generalisation. They encourage you to replace your own thoughts and opinions with a very quick assumption. Instead of seeing things with an open mind, stereotypes manipulate you to take another person’s opinion rather than your own.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, right?

Discrimination has no Excuse

It’s merely taught behaviour – there’s nothing more to it.

Time is Precious

I read something a few days ago which really resonated with me –

Don’t be scared of growing old, be scared of wasting time.

Cheesy I know, but it’s important to remember that your time could run out at any minute; it would be such a shame have wasted it.

Dreams have no Expiration

It’s never too late.

Change is Growth

We should never be fearful of change in direction – You could say I’m living proof of that. Over the last few years my beliefs have changed more than you could possibly imagine, and that is not something to ever despise.

Change is growth, and growth is having the ability to accept exactly how you’ve changed.

There’s more than one way to Live

You should never be confined to one way of life, nor should you expect the 7 billion people on this planet to be confined to one either. There is no right way to live.

Human Rights are never Optional

Every single person deserves to be treated with respect, no matter their colour, their religion or their beliefs. We were all born into this world as free individuals, no one should have that freedom taken away due to circumstances beyond their control.

Helping others is just as important as helping yourself

As much as we can’t forget to take care of ourselves, we also can’t forget to take care of others – Treat others exactly how you’d want to be treated, and absolutely no less.

Comparison is a Theif

Comparison steals love, joy and happiness from the human race. It is the backbone of greed and jealousy, and it makes us breed hatred towards people that have achieved nothing but greatness.

Like I always say; let’s show compassion over comparison.

Love will always Win

In a world where hatred is often all that we hear, it’s easy to forget about the frequent positivity and love that surrounds us. It’s so crucial to not ignore the little things, and to remember that love is always going to be much stronger than hate ♡

Words can be just as Powerful as Actions

I know there’s that saying “actions speak louder than words”, and in a lot of instances that is entirely true. But to me, words are just as powerful.

Mental abuse is just as hurtful as physical, and words can impact just as much as actions. I don’t know whether I’m biased due to having a blog that is based on words that essentially revolve around my actions – but stop and think about the many times that words have deeply affected you – both positively and negatively.

They’re pretty damn powerful.

There’s no Planet B

This earth is our only hope – Let’s not stuff this up.

Travel is more than just a Holiday

Holidays should be more than just luxurious hotels, expensive restaurants and a bunch of admirable images. Travel is about seeing a side of the world that is unlike your own, and accepting the diversity that lies within it.

Travel opens your heart, it challenges your thoughts, and it changes your life for good.

I’m Incredibly Privileged

I live this beautiful life purely because I’m a white woman born into a westernised country. My appearance has given me the freedom that millions of people don’t have access to – and that is something that I will never take for granted.

Things need to change, and unfortunately that will never happen until people stop abusing their privilege.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learnt in your life?

love kate X

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18 Things I've Learned in my Early 20's

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8 CRAZY FACTS ABOUT THE AUSSIE OUTBACK http://www.travelfordifference.com/8-crazy-facts-central-australia/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/8-crazy-facts-central-australia/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 08:00:16 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5716 The Aussie Outback is a pretty amazing place. Not only does it take up a huge portion of our country as a whole, but it’s also home to some pretty incredible landmarks and some very interesting characteristics. To help you understand how strange it really is, here are 8 facts about the Aussie Outback that […]

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Reeds in the foreground with Kata Tjuta domes appearing in the distance below pink sky

The Aussie Outback is a pretty amazing place.

Not only does it take up a huge portion of our country as a whole, but it’s also home to some pretty incredible landmarks and some very interesting characteristics.

To help you understand how strange it really is, here are 8 facts about the Aussie Outback that may potentially blow your mind!

 

1. Uluru is taller than the Eiffel Tower

Smooth carving in the rock face of Uluru - Vibrant red colour with black streak over it

Can you believe it!

I’m not sure if this is a fact that a lot of people know, but I was absolutely shocked when I found this out during my time with SEIT Outback Australia.

The Eiffel tower, the famous Parisian man-made structure, stands at 324 metres off the ground. But, Uluru – this total natural wonder, soars higher than the Statue of Liberty, the Great Pyramid and of course, the ginormous Eiffel Tower, at 348 metres.

Nature is a magical thing.

2. There are only 0.16 people per square kilometre in the Northern Territory

Birds eye view of small town surrounded by desert

Due to the vast open spaces and extreme amounts of uninhabited land, the Northern Territory is one of the least densely populated states in the world. To put things into perspective, the outback accumulates for up to 70% of Australia’s landmass, but is only populated by 3% of the countries people.

So, there’s calculated to be only a 6th of a person for every square kilometre in the state. That’s pretty crazy, right?

3. There are over 150 different Indigenous languages spoken across Central Australia

2 Indigenous dancers with body paint in the shrubbery

At the time of the European settlement, there was said to be over 250 Indigenous languages spoken across the country. Now, there is estimated to be only 150. Unfortunately as ancestors pass, those languages sadly continue to fade and now 110 of these beautiful dialects are labelled as critically endangered.

There are still over 45 that continue to be fluently spoken amongst the Indigenous people today.

4. The most commonly seen Mammal isn’t native to the country

Camel standing in the desert looking up at camera

One of the most frequently seen animals in the outback is the Camel.

Strangely enough, these animals are not native to our land by any means; they were introduced during the time of the first settlement for the purpose of carrying goods and transportation for the railroad construction. Now, there are over 1 million Camels roaming the Aussie outback, which is the largest number of purebred Camels in the entire world.

Unfortunately, these creatures are now named as pests and are being sent back to the Middle East where they are used for tourism and meat (terribly sad I know). But believe it or not, our native animals such as kangaroos, dingoes, echidnas and wombats are very rarely spotted by tourists in the Red Centre.

5. Alice Springs is the closest city to every beach in Australia

View over town (Alice Springs) with mountain ridges in the distance

Alice Springs is basically smack-bang in the middle of the country. If you want to easily access the centre of Australia, this is definitely where you should go – No city, or sizeable town for that matter, is close to getting more central than this.

Due to its location, Alice Springs is the only town in Australia that is close to all of our 10,000 + beaches – This is what the locals like to say anyway.

For those who aren’t from here, No… Uluru is not the real centre of Australia. The actual geographic centre of the country is called Lambert Centre, which is 200 km south of Alice Springs and over 400km east of Uluru.

6. The Australian Desert is actually covered in Vegetation

View of the deserted outback (from the air) covered in vegetation and red dirt

91% of Australia’s land is entirely covered in vegetation. If you’re anything like me, you may have thought that Central Australia and its deserts were much like the bare, open spaces in the Middle East… But that’s not true!

The vast outback around Uluru and a lot of Australia is almost completely covered in shrubbery, vegetation and our many species of native plants. During the months when there’s a little more rain, the vegetation begins to grow and our iconic red dirt becomes almost non-visible.

7. The Outback can reach max temperatures of 50ºc in the Summer, and lows of -10ºc in the Winter

Completely yellow golden sky in the outback

Before I visited the Aussie Outback, I was under the impression that the desert is hot and humid throughout all months of the year. How wrong I was!

During my visit to Central Aus, I spent the entire time in jeans, jumpers, warm socks and padded vests! It was quite amusing to see how many tourists were just like me, and came very unprepared!

To help you understand, the temperatures can reach incredible highs of 50°c (122°f) and freezing lows of -10°c (14°f). There’s absolutely no doubt that the weather in this country can go from one extreme to the other – even in the parts that you may not expect.

8. Anna Creek Station – the World’s Largest Cattle Station – is bigger than Israel


(Source)

This is one of the outback facts that I was completely unaware of.

Anna Creek Station is a working Cattle Station in South Australia that’s 6 million acres in size. To put things into perspective, this is larger than numerous European countries such as Israel, Slovenia and Ibiza. To be honest, I didn’t even know that this place existed (I’m clearly not a very loyal Australian).

So to recap, the Aussie Outback is a very weird, and very large place; a part of the world that everyone needs to see for themselves. The more I learn about my own country, the more I come to realise how unusual is really is!

love kate X

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8 Crazy Facts about the Aussie Outback

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HERE’S TO ONE YEAR OF BLOGGING! http://www.travelfordifference.com/one-year-blogging/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/one-year-blogging/#comments Sat, 13 May 2017 08:00:39 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=4980 On May 13th, 2016 I published my very first blog post to Travel for Difference. And today, it’s May 13th, 2017… It’s my travel blogging anniversary! I honestly cannot believe it… It’s so hard to comprehend that this time last year, I was nervously waiting for the response to the release of my website and to […]

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Girl sitting on deck-chair under palm trees - infront of ocean. With text "One Year Anniversary"

On May 13th, 2016 I published my very first blog post to Travel for Difference. And today, it’s May 13th, 2017… It’s my travel blogging anniversary!

I honestly cannot believe it…

It’s so hard to comprehend that this time last year, I was nervously waiting for the response to the release of my website and to my very first published piece. At basically this exact moment, one year ago, I was checking my feed every few minutes to see the reaction towards my months of hard work and total dedication.

I didn’t have high expectations – being realistic was something that I tried to keep in mind, as I was totally aware that this could have been a complete and utter fail. I tried to acknowledge that the ideas that I had my head could have been nothing more than good intentions.

I was terrified; worried that this grand idea would be a total flop, and concerned that people would have no care for my opinions or completely crazy mentalities. But today, all those worries are gone!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly had my ups and downs; moments where I think this blog is far too hard to maintain, and moments of pure joy and excitement for the incredible opportunities that could lie ahead in my future.

May 13th, 2016 was a moment in my life that I will always cherish. It was the moment that I went with my instincts, and took the plunge into a field that I was almost entirely oblivious too – you might call it madness… But hey, now I call it my success!

Today, I’m sitting here writing this post one year down the track, reminiscing on how much I’ve achieved and being extremely grateful for all of the people who encouraged me to follow my dream.

In the past year I’ve written 126 posts, visited numerous destinations around the world, worked with amazing companies and turned this blog into my very own business.

I’ve quickly come to realise that there’s absolutely no way that this would be my reality if I didn’t take the very first step and just give it a good go.

So I guess the message I want you to take away from this, is the importance of taking risks and trying new things – Without it, I wouldn’t be planning a number of trips around the world or sharing my thoughts with thousands of people. Instead, my job would be at a desk, rather than whichever location I choose to be in the world.

I had no idea what my life would be like one year down the road, but that’s the beauty of the unknown – It’s led me to be exactly where I am today, with absolutely no regrets.

There’s no doubt that it’s been one hell of a ride, and in the same way that it’s been the most fulfilling year, it’s also been the most exhausting. I’ve never worked this hard at something in my entire life, but I wouldn’t change it for the entire world.

I really do hope that this next year brings me as much success (my version of success, of course) as what I’ve been lucky enough to experience this past year.

If not, that’s totally okay too – Because in this last year, I’ve learnt more about myself and my values than ever before. It’s been one of the best 12 months of my entire life, and I’m eternally grateful for everything that this blog and all of my viewers have allowed me to experience.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Every single person that reads this blog has encouraged me to create better content, be the best version of myself and reminded me that even in the hard times, I should always be proud and grateful for all that I have and all that I’ve created.

Honestly, thank you; for all of the kind emails, constructive criticism and for simply stopping by! You have allowed me to live a year of total love and gratitude for this crazy life I now live.

It’s been one of kind ♡

love kate X

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Here's to One Year of Travel Blogging!

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RED CENTRE PHOTO DIARY http://www.travelfordifference.com/red-centre-photo-diary/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/red-centre-photo-diary/#comments Tue, 09 May 2017 08:00:41 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5490 Before visiting the Red Centre of Australia, I was a 21-year-old woman that had hardly seen any of her home country. As someone who has travelled a fair bit for their age, I could tell you more about other countries in the world than I could about my very own home of origin. So, I […]

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Path leading to Uluru with text "Red Centre Photo Diary"

Before visiting the Red Centre of Australia, I was a 21-year-old woman that had hardly seen any of her home country. As someone who has travelled a fair bit for their age, I could tell you more about other countries in the world than I could about my very own home of origin.

So, I finally decided to visit the Red Centre; the literal centre of Australia surrounded by red dirt, vast open spaces and some of the most spectacular natural monuments in the world.

The minimal people, spiritual vibes and beautiful outback landscapes are what made me really fall in love with Australia. After almost 22 years, I finally came to realise just how beautiful my home really is.

And to really prove it to you, here are 51 images of my time in the heart of Aus, and 51 images that will force you to visit the incredible Red Centre too. Enjoy!

 

Sun shining in the background over road, with bush in focus Side profile of 2 baby Camels (Zara and Ernie) in the Red Centre Side profile of young Aboriginal man from the Anangu tribe - Dancing in the outback Mum and Baby Walaroo jumping into the bush Red Uluru from the Air Sunrise forming over Kata Tjuta in the distance Big black grasshopper with yellow spots carrying another on its back Sunset behind huge salt lake - Lake Amadeus Small sparrow bird perched on bare branch Girl in Blue hat facing away from Camera overlooking Kings Canyon Happy, smiling baby camel with Uluru in the distance Smooth surface of Uluru with sun shinning through Small salt lakes in the Outback 8 camels roaming through the red centre Sun peering over the horizon behind the desert trees View of Rocky Canyon 'Kings Canyon' from Helicopter Road through Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park Blue/Orange Sunrise Sky over Spinifex Grass Red stone Olga domes Small lizard sunbathing on a rock Girl looking towards vivid sunset Focus on the grassy ground with Kata Tjuta in the background Bright Orange clouds as the sun rises bushy valley inside Kings Canyon Dull sunrise behind backlit domes of Kata Tjuta Indigenous man with painted face and body holding a grass shrub Green/Yellow Parrot with Black Head, perched on a branch Top of Kata Tjuta Bolder with cap of vegetation Feet hanging high above a road 6 mature camels roaming through the desert in a line Walaroo (small kangaroo) looking at camera while eating grass Grassy hill infront of very distant Ayers Rock Bright Blue sunrise behind Uluru - camera pointing between 2 out of focus bodies Ayers rock in the distance surrounded by flat grounds - Airport runway in the foreground Very thin Dingo walking through the carpark Girl looking into the distance in the gorge of Kings Canyon Yellow golden sunrise over desert trees Rugged peaks at Kings Canyon in the Outback Close up of a baby camels chewing hay Winding road through the Australian Outback 5 camels in a pack on a field of Red Dirt 2 Indigenous dancers with body paint in the shrubbery 2 side profiles of yellow finches sitting on branch Big red borders from Uluru with sun shining down golden yellow sunrise far away from Uluru Focused on the Spinifex grass with Uluru in the background and pink sunrise sky Completely yellow golden sky in the outback Girl looking at camera onto of Anzac hill in Alice Springs Aboriginal Paintings inside a cave of Uluru Very rugged edge of Uluru behind sign that says "Help Protect the Vegetation"

Which photo is your favourite?

love kate X

[ READ NEXT: Uluru and Kata Tjuta with SEIT Outback Australia ]

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Australian Red Centre Photo Diary

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FLYING HIGH AT ULURU WITH PHS http://www.travelfordifference.com/flying-high-phs-uluru/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/flying-high-phs-uluru/#respond Sun, 07 May 2017 08:00:29 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5609   I bet you’re probably wondering about the best way to see the Red Centre? Well, as you probably already know, visiting Uluru is an experience in itself. But nothing will give you views of the outback like those you’ll see from the air. Thanks to the team at Professional Helicopter Services, I was able […]

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Feet hanging over helicopter (PHS) above Uluru

 

I bet you’re probably wondering about the best way to see the Red Centre? Well, as you probably already know, visiting Uluru is an experience in itself. But nothing will give you views of the outback like those you’ll see from the air.

Thanks to the team at Professional Helicopter Services, I was able to experience perfect birdseye views of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and the incredible desert, all whilst sitting over the edge of an open helicopter.

I know… I’m pretty nuts!

Sky view of Vibrant Uluru

As most of you could probably gather, the Aussie outback is basically dead flat. Meaning that understanding your surroundings is not always the easiest to do.

So… That’s where helicopters come in! Here in Central Australia, PHS run scenic tours to many of our countries most famous sights; Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Mount Connor, Lake Amadeus and Kings Canyon.

Luckily for me, I was able to see most of these beautiful sights whilst dangling my feet in the sky. There’s no doubt that this is not for the faint-hearted, but for me, it was nothing short of a thrill!

Birds eye view of knees hanging over the outback

I was picked up from the town pad at the Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara, and taken for a flight around Uluru and Kata Tjuta, on a bright and sunny outback day!

The amazing pilot gave detailed views of my surroundings as we circled through the sky. Whilst I was perched on the floor of the helicopter, strapped in by a harness with my legs flowing in the wind at 150 km/h, I was given an array of amazing facts of what was beneath me at 1000 ft.

The flight was beautifully smooth, completely safe, and dare I say it, the best in the biz!

Winding road through the Australian Outback

Feet hanging in the air with Helicopter shadow and Uluru in the background Legs crossed in the open air above a main road in the Outback

On this extended tour, I was shown premium views of the two famous monuments in the National Park. Of course, Uluru and Kata Tjuta are the two things that tourists come here to experience – but on a scenic flight around Yulara, it’s evident that there’s really so much more to see.

From the air, I was able to look for wildlife, see the extreme amounts of vegetation, the distant ridges and the outback from a whole new perspective. From the view of a helicopter, you come to realise just how big the desert really is, and likewise, just how big those famous monuments are too.

There’s no doubt that the world seems much bigger when you’re flying thousands of feet above it.

Girl looking at camera whilst sitting on the edge of a flying helicopter

Feet pointing towards huge stone domes of Kata Tjuta

Legs pointing towards a rugged outback ridge, with distant Kata Tjuta domes

After thoroughly admiring this part of Australia that I’d never experienced before, we landed back down at the Ayers Rock Resort with achy legs and windblown hair. As you can imagine, my heart was still racing, but there was absolutely no doubt that I had a huge smile plastered on my face.

This was another of those experiences that I’ll likely never forget. But for those who may be wondering, hanging out of a helicopter is not an option for the general public. Due to knowing a contact in the company, this flight was organised purely for me – (lucky I know).

Window of helicopter with Ayers Rock in the background

As if it couldn’t get any better, a few days later I was treated to another flight with the amazing staff at PHS, on a private charter to Watarrka National Park. Although this time, the doors were on and I was strapped into the seat – rather than a harness!

I was taken from Ayers Rock Resort and flown over the vast desert for 45 minutes towards the lesser known, but equally outstanding landform, Kings Canyon. On the way, I was treated to ariel views of the largest salt lake in the Northern Territory, Lake Amadeus. This lake, although often completely dry, was filled with a shallow layer of water from the previous weeks of heavy rainfall. From the pilot’s remarks, this was a very rare occurrence!

After passing over the huge salt fields, travelling through the desert and spotting a few herds of camel along the way, we made it to Kings Canyon.

View of Rocky Canyon 'Kings Canyon' from Helicopter

Before landing at the nearby resort, I was flown above the beautiful rugged gorge and the Domes of the Lost City.

Flying in a helicopter gives you a whole new perspective on the earth beneath you. But here at Kings Canyon, that’s taken to a whole new level. Here, there is a vast amount of landscape that you would otherwise be oblivious too if you were to only explore by foot. The towering sandstone walls and immense terrain of Watarrka National Park travel for miles past what the eye can see on land.

The pilot from PHS gave great commentary of these surrounding landforms; the canyon itself, Carmichaels Crag and the walks that are available once down on the ground.
Luscious, rugged green outback surrounding Kings Canyon Rugged peaks at Kings Canyon in the Outback

Yellow and Blue PHS (Professional Helicopter Services) Helicopter, flying over Kings Canyon

After landing at the Kings Canyon resort, I was driven by private mini-van to the Canyon where I was able to walk along the luscious creek bed and explore the beauty up close. I spent an hour strolling through the charming canyon, spotting wildlife and enjoying the view before I was picked up, driven back to the helipad and flown all the way back to Uluru.

We flew through the outback over the same famous landmarks, but this time we had a picturesque sunset to bid us on our way.

Sunset behind huge salt lake - Lake Amadeus

I came home from this experience being extremely grateful for my time with Professional Helicopter Services. Without them, all of these incredible memories would still be just a distant dream. I was able to see so many amazing parts of the heart of Australia that I would otherwise be oblivious to.

I got to dangle out of a helicopter for goodness sake! How could I possibly have any complaints?

If there’s one thing you need to take away from this, it’s that you need to come to the Red Centre and fly with PHS. You certainly won’t regret it!

love kate X

Thank you to the fantastic team at Professional Helicopter Services for my incredible experience in the Red Centre. Once again, all my opinions are 100% truthful and entirely my own!

[ READ NEXT: Welcome to the Field of Light ]

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Flying High at Uluru with PHS (Professional Helicopter Services)

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WELCOME TO THE FIELD OF LIGHT http://www.travelfordifference.com/welcome-field-of-light/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/welcome-field-of-light/#comments Thu, 04 May 2017 08:00:19 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5488 One of the most popular attractions at Uluru – apart from the rock itself of course – is the Field of Light. The Field of Light is an art installation situated in the centre of the outback with breathtaking views of the natural wonder, and famous monument, Uluru. An area of 49,000 square metres, or […]

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Huge field of changing coloured light bulbs

One of the most popular attractions at Uluru – apart from the rock itself of course – is the Field of Light.

The Field of Light is an art installation situated in the centre of the outback with breathtaking views of the natural wonder, and famous monument, Uluru.

An area of 49,000 square metres, or the size of seven football fields, is filled with 50,000 stems topped with frosted glass spheres. These 50,000 individually crafted bulbs are powered by 36 portable solar panels which vibrantly light up the stems when darkness falls. 380 kilometres of optical fibre is used across the installation allowing the bulbs to change complete colour every 6 seconds. Amazing right?

This installation was created by Bruce Munro – a British artist who first visited Uluru in 1992. It was at this visit to the famous rock that he had the idea to create a large-scale installation that appeared like the seedlings which grow from the rugged desert after the heavy outback rain. Since this visit, the idea became lodged in the artist’s mind until he finally began to physically create these visions 12 years later, in 2004.

It was in 2016, that he finally had the opportunity to create the artwork in the location that sparked his initial vision.

Now, the piece is placed in the outback and has been an incredibly popular attraction for tourists all over the world – and for very good reason!

 

Vibrant Uluru with field of trees infront of it

Thanks to the team at Ayers Rock Resort and a contact in Yulara, I was treated to a beautiful Night at the Field of Light.

To be honest, it was not long before I departed for Uluru that I learnt of this art piece. But once I began to research, I instantly knew that I had to visit. So when the day finally came, I was picked up from my hotel of Desert Gardens at 5.35 PM, before the sun was yet to set. We were taken 10 minutes down the road to a remote location with breathtaking views of Uluru.

Situated on the top of a small sand dune, we had the opportunity to see the Field of Light before it began to shine with colour. The small translucent bulbs were visible to the eye, with a vivid backdrop of Uluru as the sky began to turn to dark.

2 Young male Aboriginal dancers holding flora and covered in body paint

As the sun slowly set, we were treated to a cultural dance by the Anangu people who are the traditional owners of the land, and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. They showed us a glimpse into the true Australian culture as we sipped on champagne and watched the earth display its magic.

2 people clinking champagne glasses with uluru in the distance

As the vibrant pink sky began to hide beneath the outback, the group was escorted to a different sand-dune where we were served a delicious outback buffet. Tables were equipped for 8 people, so those travelling solo or in smaller groups were dining with other excited travellers.

The dinner was suitable for all dietary requirements, with 3 courses of delicious Australian cuisine and a mix of alcoholic beverages. The service was impeccable, and even when things went wrong (such as a minor gas bottle malfunction) the staff were constantly of the highest standards.

As bellies became extremely full and the air became extremely cold, all of the lights were switched off and we were guided through the outback sky. A young New Zealand man (ironic huh?) talked us through the night sky and made the entire group completely in awe of their surroundings. He had the biggest laser I’ve ever seen, whilst showing us the stars the shone down above us. He spoke beautifully of our solar system; the stars we can see, those that we can’t, and just how small we really are in comparison to our infinity.

After my mind was completely blown, it was finally time to see the magic that we’d all been waiting for.

 

In the total darkness of the night, the Field of Light lit up like a rainbow beneath the earth. An array of vibrant colours transitioned across the field below the midnight sky. A few different paths ran through the exhibition at different lengths, allowing the guests to experience the magic at their leisure.

Although in the darkness, Uluru is no longer visible, the fact that you know it’s hidden in the night is spellbinding in itself. The group was allowed around 30 minutes to stroll around the field and watch the bulbs change colour every few seconds.

It’s important to note that no tripods are allowed in the field, and all guests are to stay on the paths in order to preserve the artwork. I will say that this unfortunately makes the installation a little difficult to photograph, but I guess experiencing it in person is far more special than being able to capture it.

The incredible thing about this installation is that the entirety of its materials are re-usable. Once the exhibition is closed here at Uluru, all of the pieces used will be recycled for further artworks. After all, this installation alone is the equivalent weight of 15 cars, it would be a waste to simply dispose of it!

All in all, my night at Bruce Munro’s Field of Light was an experience beyond words. As I said to many other guests during my visit to Uluru, I did not have a single complaint about the entire exhibition or the night as a whole.

Spending an evening under the stars, in the middle of the red centre with delicious Australian cuisine, beautiful surroundings and an unbelievable display of lights, was an experience of a lifetime.

Somehow, after 245 days of design and production, Bruce Munro managed to make Uluru an even more magical experience than it already is.

You simply must visit!

love kate X

Thank-you to Ayers Rock Resort for my experience at the Field of Light. It was the most incredible outback experience imaginable – All opinions and photos are my own.

[ READ NEXT: Red Centre Photo Diary ]

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Welcome to the Field of Light

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ULURU AND KATA TJUTA WITH SEIT OUTBACK AUSTRALIA http://www.travelfordifference.com/uluru-kata-tjuta-seit-outback-australia/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/uluru-kata-tjuta-seit-outback-australia/#comments Tue, 02 May 2017 08:00:36 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5492   Believe it or not, in my almost 22 years of life here in Australia, I’ve never visited Uluru. Crazy I know – But finally, after an extensive period of longing to visit the most well-known part of my home country, I finally made it! My journey into the Red Centre to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National […]

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Golden grass infront of Uluru as the pink sun rises

 

Believe it or not, in my almost 22 years of life here in Australia, I’ve never visited Uluru. Crazy I know – But finally, after an extensive period of longing to visit the most well-known part of my home country, I finally made it!

My journey into the Red Centre to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was to see exactly what the name suggests – Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I was lucky enough to experience these two incredible natural monuments with the lovely team at SEIT Outback Australia.

Both of my tours to Uluru and Kata Tjuta began in the early hours of the morning when the sun had not yet risen. The first of the two tours was to the massive sandstone monolith, and the most well known of all attractions in the National Park… Uluru!

Blue/Pink sunrise behind Uluru

The morning began with a 5.45AM pickup from the front of the hotel reception. Being a somewhat early riser, the early wake-up call wasn’t all that difficult for me. But what I was very surprised to see in the darkness of the outback, was the vast amount of tourists that were up just as early as me!

Hundreds of people filled the huge coaches ready for their trips to various locations around the National Park. Although, for those on the tour with SEIT, the group size was no larger than 10 people – The size was small, intimate and allowed the group to really interact with each other unlike those on the larger coaches.

After picking up the guests, the amazing tour guide Wally took us straight to the gate of the National Park. For those who have never visited, it’s important to note that there is a fee of $25 to enter for 3 days. You certainly don’t want to get to the gate and have forgotten your wallet, that’s for sure!

From the entrance, we headed to a private sunrise location on the side of a quiet road to witness the magic happen. Those that went on a larger tour group were taken to the designated sunrise platform. Unfortunately this location becomes very overcrowded by hundreds of eager people as soon as the sun begins to rise. For us on the SEIT tour though, we were joined by nothing else but the tranquillity of the surroundings, the sound of tweeting birds and the incredibly vibrant pink sunrise.

Red uluru infront of grass on a sunny day

We were extremely close to Uluru and had a distant view of Kata Tjuta over the open, rugged outback.

Here, we were treated to a basic but delicious breakfast that consisted of banana bread, cereal and a selection of hot and cold beverages. Nothing’s better than an incredible morning sky and a good piece of banana bread, right?

After spending a lot of time capturing the surroundings, chatting to the other travellers and admiring the charm of Uluru, it was finally time to see the beauty up close.

Cream coloured, spinifex grass infront of distant Kata Tjuta Domes

In the Uluru Highlights Tour, the guide escorts the group to the Mutijulu Waterhole via the Kuniya Walk. It’s here that we were told of the creation stories and rich spirituality from hundreds of years ago.

Along the way, we were taught about the surrounding vegetation, the importance of Uluru to the Indigenous people and its great significance to their history.

Rugged rock face of Uluru

Once at the very sacred location of the waterhole, the instant feeling was very overwhelming. This extreme monolith that has existed for over 600 million years, is one of the most influential natural landmarks I’ve ever come to contact with.

The smooth rock face, beautiful waterfall carvings and creationtime (aka. dreamtime) stories left most of the travellers feeling completely astounded and in awe of our beautiful earth. Although many people (including myself) once saw Uluru as nothing more than a huge rock, when you visit you instantly realise that it’s so much more than that.

Mutijulu waterhole through Uluru

The atmosphere is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. This feeling really hit me when walking slightly under the rock face to see ancient Indigenous paintings on the walls of Uluru. Wally explained how these paintings are now interpreted and what the symbols could potentially signify. Although to this day, the true meaning of the art is somewhat unknown – And that is pretty special.

From here, the walk was complete after having the final opportunity to touch the rock face for the first and only time. Many on the tour found this a very heartfelt experience and spent a lot of time connecting with the beauty that beholds Uluru.

Aboriginal paintings in a cave on Uluru

At the completion of the walk, the group boarded the mini-bus to head back to the resort. But before it was over, Wally drove the group around the entire perimeter of Uluru.

He told many stories of the Anangu people as he drove around the base. He spoke of the Mutijulu community, the old camping site, and the importance of respecting the local people. At various stages of the drive, he warned us of the sacred areas in which photography is not recommended. He told many historic stories, whilst also pulling over for photo opportunities when they were out of sacred areas, and when they were best needed.

Here are some incredible facts that I learnt during my time with SEIT to Uluru:

  • Depending on the person you ask, Uluru is estimated to be between 2-6 kilometres under the earth. The most common estimate is around 2.5 km.
  • Climbing the rock is not recommended due to the spiritual values of Uluru, the environmental impact and out of respect to the land of the Anangu people.
  • 38 people have died climbing the rock since the climb was opened. Deaths range from health risks to unfortunate accidents and falls.
  • There are many areas of the rock that are sacred to specific genders. During the Indigenous times, only those specific genders were allowed in those areas of Uluru.
  • When punishment was needed, the Anangu people would punish with spears. Although, out of respect, they were then forced to care for the person they punished until they reached full health.

Pretty amazing huh?

Path leading through trees to Ayers Rock

After driving around Uluru and really feeling the magic, we were then dropped at our specific hotels in time for a second breakfast.

After reflecting on my experience, I realised just how much I learnt with SEIT that I never would have if I were to of explored Uluru on my own. The duration of the tour was around 3 hours, which was the perfect amount of time to experience an incredible part of Australia’s culture.

For those that are interested, you can see the tours here!

 

Sunrise over the Australian Outback

After one day of sleeping in and adventuring on my own, I was ready to see Kata Tjuta!

Another 5.45AM start with a huge amount of eager tourists saw myself ready for the day ahead and another glorious sunrise. Out of sheer coincidence, I found myself with the fantastic Wally once again! He tried to tell me it was because I paid extra for the best tour guide, so I suppose we’ll just let him think that 😉

For this tour to Kata Tjuta, the group size was small and compact, with only 5 people! I was the youngest by quite a long way, but the wonderful group I was with made the tour as comfortable as ever.

Just like on the tour to Uluru, we headed to the gate of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, but this time we headed in the opposite direction towards what is most commonly recognised as ‘The Olgas’.

Instead of having a private location for sunrise, we were instead situated on a crowded platform to watch the magic happen. The view was beautiful – From this location, you had the opportunity to see the sun rise behind a very distant and backlit Uluru before the sky lit up to reveal the bold domes of the Olgas.

Sunrise forming over Kata Tjuta in the distance

Before this experience, Kata Tjuta was a part of the Red Centre that I didn’t know too much about. It was incredible to see the beauty up close on a monument that I was completely and utterly oblivious too.

After watching the sun rise above the outback, we drove towards the rusted domes and into Walpa Gorge. The first comparison that I instantly noticed – other than the shape of the rocks of course – was the drastic difference in colour and the large quantity of vegetation on the surface in comparison to Uluru.

As we got closer and closer to the huge rock face, it became evident just how different this monolith really is.

Wall of Kata Tjuta - Sand stone and other rock face

Kata Tjuta is made up of 36 domes, and unlike Uluru, these domes are made up of a variety of different rock types that are somewhat cemented by sandstone. The rock face is much more rugged, and the surroundings of the gorge are filled with a lot of plant life.

Although very different to Uluru, Kata Tjuta was even more beautiful than I had imagined.

'Gorge of the Wind' in Kata Tjuta full of trees

Before our walk into the gorge, we had the option to have our breakfast before venturing into the cold. The group decided to take the walk first in the hopes of being in the magic with a little peace and quiet. This decision allowed us to be the very first group up the windy gorge, meaning that we had the opportunity to spot some beautiful Australian wildlife. Luckily for us, we spotted a mother Wallaroo (Kangaroo X Wallaby) and her mature joey enjoying a morning feed.

Much to my surprise, spotting wildlife in the park is not as much of a regular occurrence as many think; so if you have the option to potentially experience it, make sure you take up the offer!

Red dirt and shrubbery infront of Kata Tjuta Domes

Once in the heart of the gorge, rather than learning about the creation stories of this landmark, we instead spoke about the environment and how the monoliths have evolved over many years. Due to the entirety of Kata Tjuta being a sacred men’s area, there aren’t any stories to be told of its creation.

After learning so much about the geology of the Red Centre, it was clear that the history in the heart of Australia was something I was completely ignorant to.

Here are some interesting facts about Kata Tjuta:

  • Kata Tjuta was once under the ocean and now stands over 1000 metres above the ground.
  • Mount Olga (the highest dome of Kata Tjuta) is almost 200 metres taller than Uluru.
  • From a distance, you are unable to take a photo of fewer than 3 domes at once.
  • Kata Tjuta translates to “Many Heads”
  • The domes form a rounded edge due to the drastic wind conditions that flow through the gorges. After all, there is a walk called “The Valley of the Winds”
  • Unlike Uluru that is one piece of sandstone, the Kata Tjuta rock formations are conglomerates.

 

Milk bottle and cereal infront of the Olgas

After exploring the extremely sacred location of Kata Tjuta, we returned to a beautiful picnic spot for a picturesque outback breakfast with a view to die for. I mean really, does it get any better than that?

Once completing our traditional Aussie breakfast of raisin toast, cereal and fruit, we drove back through the National Park, learnt more about the outback and headed back to our hotels.

This tour was 5 hours in duration, but at no point throughout the journey did I feel as though it was too long. I was intrigued at every turn and Wally did a fantastic job at keeping the group entertained.

After 8 hours of travelling with SEIT, I wholeheartedly could not recommend them more. The intimate group size, knowledgeable guides and breathtaking surroundings of the Red Centre left me with an experience I will surely never forget.

Thanks to the SEIT team, my first time to the heart of Australia was by far the most memorable travel experience I’ve had in this beautiful country. Thanks to them, my heart is now solidly planted here in Aus.

love kate X

Both of my Kata Tjuta and Uluru tours were kindly gifted by SEIT Outback Australia. But as always, all opinions are my own. After all, who could possibly be disappointed with an experience like that?

[ READ NEXT: Flying High at Uluru with PHS ]

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Uluru and Kata Tjuta with SeIt Outback Australia

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10 THINGS YOU MUST DO DURING SUMMER IN ALBERTA http://www.travelfordifference.com/10-things-summer-alberta/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/10-things-summer-alberta/#respond Sun, 30 Apr 2017 08:00:30 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5477 Alberta is one of the western provinces of Canada that’s unlike any other. With quaint towns, rugged mountains, immense forests and extreme wildlife, Alberta is the place for any nature lover. Much like most of Canada, Alberta’s landscapes drastically vary depending on the season. During my visit, the temperatures were warm and sunny with clear blue skies, […]

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'Maligne' Boat House with forest and snowy mountains in background

Alberta is one of the western provinces of Canada that’s unlike any other. With quaint towns, rugged mountains, immense forests and extreme wildlife, Alberta is the place for any nature lover.

Much like most of Canada, Alberta’s landscapes drastically vary depending on the season. During my visit, the temperatures were warm and sunny with clear blue skies, but the winter often depicts a very different vibe.

With extreme freezing temperatures and huge amounts of snow, the landscapes and surroundings become a totally different scene. So, here are 10 things you must do during the Summer in Alberta; when the wildlife emerges, the skies are clear and nature in the rocky mountains are out in full force.

 

Drive the Icefields Parkway

Road winding through a valley between mountains and forest

The Icefields Parkway AKA. Alberta Highway 93, is one of the most well-known attractions in Alberta. This 268 km highway travels through the spine of the rocky mountains – It begins in Lake Louise and ends in Jasper, through some of the most breath-taking Canadian scenery imaginable; it’s considered the most epic road trip in the whole of Canada!

Everything from Jasper National Park to the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefields will really leave you speechless. It showed me some of the most memorable landscapes I’ve ever seen. During the summer the peaks are often still snow-capped, but the roads are clear, the sky is blue and the wildlife really emerges.

Whether you drive the road yourself or with a tour company, the Icefields Parkway is something you really can’t miss.

Search for Wildlife

Young Male Elk standing on side of road looking to the side

Canada really is full of some incredible wildlife. Summer is the best time of year to see animals in the country as this is the month that they come out to play. Bears are in much lower areas and grazing for food, elk are in the beginning phases of the rutting season, and the whale watching period is in full swing.

On my summer trip to Alberta, I encountered so much wildlife just by simply exploring the woods. Driving on the roads, hiking and even just walking through the towns will give you the opportunity to see Canada’s native animals before many hide away in the snow. I do have one tip though…

I do have one tip though… make sure you bring bear spray.

Visit Sled Dog Kennels in the Off Season

Sled dog kennels infront of mountains

When thinking of things to do in Alberta, a very popular activity to do is dog-sledding.

Unfortunately in the summer, there’s obviously no snow, so this activity is not always available. Instead, during the warmer months, the kennels operate tours of their grounds while the dogs have a rest from all of their hard work during the winter. Some kennels still run dog-sledding with road-style sleds, which may be something of interest. But otherwise, I highly recommend simply visiting the kennels and enjoying some time with a bunch of adorable huskies!

A lot of people really miss their pets when they’re abroad, and this is the perfect way to get your fix of cute, fluffy, playful dogs.

I mean, who doesn’t want to play with over 100 huskies?! It’s very important to ensure you’re visiting an ethical kennel though. Snowy Owl in Canmore is fantastic, but sadly there are many others that are very unethical. So please make sure you’re supporting a place that treats their animals well.

Go Horse Riding

5 horses and riders walking through a field with the rocky mountains behind
(Source)

A horseback ride around the heart of the rocky mountains, does it really get any better?

This is another you need to ensure is ethical, and for those that are, I can guarantee you’ll have an experience that you’ll never forget. Through the alpine meadows, quaint rivers and surrounded by wildlife and the beautiful Rockies. You’ll be submerged in the heart of nature in a way that the explorers of the country once were.

Visit Lake Louise

2 people standing on a platform surrounded by red boats - turquoise lake and mountains in background

The most picturesque location in all of Alberta – in my opinion anyway. This incredibly famous glacially fed lake is surrounded by drastic glaciers, mountain peaks, walking trails and the very beautiful Fairmont Chateau hotel.

For those who aren’t staying at this type of expensive accommodation (although I would highly recommend it), a visit to this lake is something that surely can’t be missed.

 

Jasper National Park

View of Jasper National Park from Mountain

An 11,000 km² national park full of immense wilderness and natural wonders. Jasper National Park has some absolutely incredible scenery with some very popular sights such as Maligne Lake, Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake and Whistler Mountain.

The town of Jasper itself is very quiet and quaint, but the National Park is home to the most photographed landmark in the entire Canadian Rockies – Spirit Island. That says enough in itself right?

During the winter this part of Alberta is completely submerged in snow. The summer times allows you to experience nature to the absolute fullest.

Banff National Park

View over Banff national park and mountain peaks

Much like Jasper, Banff National Park is filled with extreme wilderness, incredible views and very rich history. Banff is a much larger and more active town than Jasper, and also has a lot of landmarks that you’ll surely recognise.

It’s home to the beautiful Lake Louise that’s mentioned above, along with both Peyto and Moraine Lake too. All three are incredibly vibrant in turquoise colour due to the many glaciers that surround them.

This is the most visited park in the whole of Alberta, with over 3 and a half million visitors every single year!

Elk Island National Park


(Source)

Located 35 km east of Edmonton, Elk Island National Park played a very important role in the conservation of the American Bison many years ago. The park is now home to the densest population of hoofed mammals in Canada; with coyote, bison, moose, mule deer, lynx, beaver, elk, white-tailed deer and porcupine as year-round residents.

During the summer in Alberta, the wildlife in this park are much easier to spot. Animal lovers, this is the place for you!

Dinosaur Provincial Park


(Source)

Founded in 1955, Dinosaur Provincial Park is famous for containing some of the richest dinosaur fossils in the world.

Located 2 and half hours south-east of Calgary, this fascinating park has been the source of over 500 specimens that are now found in many museums around the world. It’s 73 square kilometres of incredible nature and history.

Hike!

Alberta is the real heart of the Rockies. For those that have the ability to hike, it would be silly to come here and not even give it a go!

Whether that means going on the easy trails or tackling the extreme mountain peaks, this is the place to see a part of the world that has basically been untouched by man.

love kate X

What is your favourite thing to do during the summer in Alberta?

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10 Things you Must do during summer in Alberta, Canada

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AN INSIGHT TO AUSTRALIAN WILDLIFE http://www.travelfordifference.com/insight-australian-wildlife/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/insight-australian-wildlife/#comments Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:44 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5392   Whenever I travel abroad, I love to hear how foreigners imagine my home country of Australia, and specifically, the Australian wildlife. Throughout my travels, I’ve heard many interesting interpretations of this beautiful country, and how many perceive its animals to really be. To a huge majority, there is an assumption that Australia is an […]

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Echidna walking away from camera into the grass

Echidna

 

Whenever I travel abroad, I love to hear how foreigners imagine my home country of Australia, and specifically, the Australian wildlife.

Throughout my travels, I’ve heard many interesting interpretations of this beautiful country, and how many perceive its animals to really be. To a huge majority, there is an assumption that Australia is an incredibly dangerous country due to the title of having the most ‘dangerous animals in the world‘.

Even those that have no idea of the risks, most have the instant assumption that the country is full of animals and that kangaroo’s hop along the streets and koala’s drop from trees.

I was completely aware of the fact that I lived in a country with some very dangerous creatures, but I always found the remarks from foreigners completely and utterly hilarious. I always thought, ‘yeah we have wildlife, but not that much’.

And then one day I had a sudden realisation. I was sitting in my home, looking out the window and an echidna strolled over to the edge of the fish pond just a few metres away. Hundreds of galahs were squawking in the trees, 2 wedge-tailed eagles were circling above the house, a blue tongue lizard was under the gas tank, and on the same day, there were kangaroos and foxes in the paddock and possums in the trees.

This is when I realised, Australia really is full of wildlife… and that’s pretty damn neat!

So since I’ve now come to cherish how much Australian wildlife I’m surrounded by on the daily, I thought I’d share a little piece of the beauty with you.

Rainbow bird eating a crumb of bread 2 pink/grey birds sitting in a tree

The first thing a lot of people notice is that there’s a lot of birdlife here down under.

To put some things into perspective, I live around 45 minutes out of the centre of Melbourne city (not in the outback by any means) and I’m surrounded by birds all the time. Right now as I’m typing this, there are king parrots☟, rainbow lorikeets ☝︎, galahs ☝︎, magpies ☟, common myna’s, cockatoos and sparrows outside of the window. And almost every day there are a pair of wedge-tailed eagles circling above my house – No exaggeration.

Multi-coloured rosella on gutter of house Black and white magpie sitting on a wire Red and green King Parrot sitting on a Ledge

So as you can probably tell, our birdlife is pretty neat!

One of the unique birds that we’re lucky enough to have as our own, is the Lyrebird. There are 2 species of these ground-dwelling birds, both of which are known for their incredible vocal talent.

A lyrebird’s song is the behaviour that makes them so distinct from the other species of birdlife. They sing throughout the entirety of the year, focusing on the breeding months, but will call for almost half of the daylight hours in each and every day.

The most interesting aspect of these otherwise beautiful creatures, is their ability to mimic unusual and unrecognised sounds. For example, they have been found to mimic other lyrebird calls, chainsaws, car alarms, dogs barks, music, whistles, camera shutters and human voices. Crazy or what?!

The tail feathers of a Lyre Bird facing away from camera in a tree

Lyre Bird (Source)

And now we get into the super cute critters!

Australia really is the land of small, cute, fluffy animals (in my opinion anyway). One my favourites that we have here, is the Wombat. A small, fluffy, bear-like critter that is part of the Marsupial family.

They are of a stocky build, with a backwards facing pouch, large claws and a diet of grass, bark and roots. They live in burrows and come out to play after the sun goes down.

Wombat (Source)

I mean come on? It really doesn’t get any cuter than that! I have one that lives on my road, so I obviously had to name him Wally… Although, he sadly doesn’t seem to like me as much as I like him.

Another incredibly iconic Aussie animal is that Platypus. But to this day, I’m yet to see one in the wild. I’ve been told they live in the creek near my home, but I’ve never seen one, nor have I really looked. They’re a very strange, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, venomous, semi-aquatic animal that lives in the Eastern and South-Coast areas of Australia.

They live in freshwater lakes, rivers, lagoons, farm dams, and streams in burrows underneath the earth banks. I’d love to tell you where to find them, but I honestly have no idea.

Platypus (Source)

They’re also one of only 5 mammal species that lay eggs instead of giving birth. The funny thing is, that the other 4 species are all Echidna! Another of our famous species that you’ll undoubtedly fall in love with –  Australia sure does kick butt in terms of Monotremes.

The Echidna (feature image) is a small, solitary animal with a slender nose, big claws and a body almost entirely covered in spines and spikes. A bit like a porcupine or hedgehog, they curl themselves into a ball to protect themselves from predators.

Like most of the mammals in Australia, the only real threat to their existence is mankind.

Small kangaroo looking into lens whilst sitting in green shrubs

Kangaroo (Source)

Although one who’s existence is certainly in no danger, is the Kangaroo.

Our most iconic Australian animal, with almost 60 million on our soil, have recently bred out of control. The numbers are the highest on record since 2014, and these creatures have been creeping closer and closer to homes around the country. I have no doubt that most travellers to Australia will have the opportunity to see them in the wild, they’re basically everywhere.

Last year, a kangaroo sadly killed my families dog at no fault of its own. When threatened, kangaroo’s swoon their threat into water and attempt to drown them with their powerful back legs. It’s an act of defence which I can surely understand but unfortunately, this act is not a rare occurrence. In recent years there have been many videos and articles emerging of kangaroo’s banging on windows, killing dogs and coming very close to humans. It’s a problem that’s getting a little out of hand.

But regardless, the kangaroo is part of our Coat of Arms for good reason. They have incredibly powerful hind legs, huge feet, a muscular tail and a little head. They’re a very unusual animal to say the least, but also the one that I would see on the daily.

Bilby (Source)

The Bilby, also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot is one of our most vulnerable marsupial species. They have a long bandicoot snout, a large mouse-like body and very large ears which radiate heat. They’re nocturnal omnivores that eat seeds, fruit, fungi, insects and sometimes small animals. They are also one of few animals that do not need to drink water, rather they obtain their moisture from food.

Koala sitting in a tree, looking to the side of camera Black Tasmanian Devil looking towards camera Small fury animal (Quokka) smiling

Now, here are 3 animals that you’ll surely recognise.

The Koala – The closest living relative to the wombat. A marsupial that lives in the trees, has a grey, tail-less body, big fluffy ears and a big round nose. Like the bilby, they don’t need to drink water, instead they get all of their needs from food, which is predominately Eucalyptus leaves. They also sleep for up to 18 hours a day and are very aggressive when mating – fun fact.

Only found in the island state of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Devil is a carnivorous marsupial that many assume to be a little ugly. They’re basically like a huge black mouse with a fat tail and long legs. Sadly their population is drastically decreasing and they’ve been listed as endangered for almost a decade – these may be a little hard to spot in the wild.

And one of my most recent obsessions, the Quokka; aka. The happiest looking critter to ever walk the earth. If there’s one animal you need to get a photo with… It’s definitely one of these.

(Source)

The Quokka is the animal that’s recently taken Australia and the rest of the world by storm. This is simply because it’s incredibly cute, smiley and instantly makes a very impressive selfie. They’re found on small islands off of the coast of Western Australia, specifically at Rottnest and Bald Island – I’ve never visited, but I’ve decided that I really have to.

Common Brushtail Possum sitting in a

Common Brushtail Possum (Source

Another super cute animal that’s becoming a bit of a pest, are the Australian Possums. The most common – with a very obvious name – is the Common Brushtail Possum. They feed on fruit and the leaves of trees and are the largest of the possum family. These are the most common Australian wildlife that will potentially be spotted in and around the cities.

Dingo (wild dog) standing on a rock - side on view

Dingo (Source)

Something that I’ve heard a few times when abroad is “Yeah, you’re from the country of ‘a dingo ate my baby‘!” – It’s true. If you haven’t heard of this common phrase before, firstly where have you been? And secondly, where have you been?

This phrase from a woman who at the time, arguably lost her baby to a Dingo, suddenly became a laughing joke across the entire world. The phrase made it to many tv episodes on well-known comedy programs such as the Simpsons and Seinfeld. It even obtained its own movie ‘A Cry in the Dark’ which was based on the entire incident that occurred. Although there is evidence that a Dingo really did kill the 2-month-old child, it is still an arguable crime scene nearly 4 decades on!

As for dingoes, they are well known for being savage hunters on small animals such as rabbits and rodents, but are also very threatening to livestock such as sheep and young cattle. They also have a build that enables them to climb trees – Pretty crazy!

Although the ‘dingo ate my baby’ phrase has become the most well-known line in terms of Australian wildlife, our wild dogs really aren’t something you need to be terribly afraid of. Maybe don’t leave your young baby alone in the outback though.

The head of a blue cassowary in the forest Head and neck of a brown Australian Emu

Here in Australia, we have 2 types of large, flightless birds; the Cassowary and the Emu.

The emu is found all around the mainland of the country, whereas the cassowary is found in Northeastern Australia and in the tropical forests of New Guinea. Both are of similar builds, although the physical characteristics are actually quite different.

As you can see in the images above, the emu is totally brown in colour and have very soft feathers, a long neck, small head, and can run up to 50km an hour! The Cassowary is much the opposite. They have very coarse, sharp feathers, a bright blue head, a pinkish/red wattle and a horn-like casque on their heads. Much like the emu, they have incredibly strong legs and large claws.

Although the emu can run much faster, the cassowary is very agile and has been known to injure people and attack cars. You don’t want to mess with them, they can be very dangerous.

Head of a scaled blue tongue Lizard A coiled red bellied black snake in the grass

(Source) (Source)

What many think of when they think of this country, is our ‘extreme’ insects and reptiles. It’s true, we have a whole lot of snakes, lizards, crocodiles, bugs and dangerous spiders.

I’m not going to lie, I’m not the big fan of the excessive amount of insects. Specifically the spiders that can put you in a hospital bed within a few minutes; the funnel web spiders, red back spiders, mouse-spiders, white tails and tarantulas are a few you don’t want to mess with. The huntsman spider (although it has a very concerning name) are non-aggressive. They do live inside homes and are about the size of a grown man’s hand though, but they’re really not all that dangerous. They’re not the easiest on the eye, but there are many more deadly spiders in the country to be wary of. Not to mention our large selection of deadly ants. Yep…

We also have some incredibly venomous snakes, the Common Brown Snake, Tiger Snake and the Red-Bellied Black Snake are the three that often come to mind when thinking of Australian reptiles. The family of brown snakes are responsible for more deaths than any other reptile species in the country.

On a nicer note, we have a lot of friendly lizards too. The most common, and one that I often see, is the Blue-Tongue Lizard. They’re very gentle in nature, they love to eat snails and are frequently welcomed into Australian gardens. As their name suggests, they have a bright blue tongue! These guys are much more scared of you than you are of them.

Box Jellyfish (Source)

Now we’re onto the most lethal animal known the mankind!

The Australian Box Jellyfish is known the be the most deadly creature in the entire world due to its capability to kill a human in the matter of a few minutes. What many may not know, is that there are actually around 50 species of this jellyfish, and the most deadly in Australian Waters is the Chironex Fleckeri. They are the largest in the Box Jellyfish species and have 15 tentacles on each corner of their body that can reach up to 3 metres in length, each of which has thousands of stingers in every strand.

They are pale blue, translucent in colour, making them almost entirely invisible when in water. When these 2kg jellies strike, the outcome is almost always fatal; their venom instantly affects the heart, lungs, skin and nervous system, often resulting in cardiac arrest within just a few minutes depending on the severity of the sting.

They’re pretty deadly. Fortunately though, the death rate is not as high as some other animals in the sea, but they’re still something you must be aware of; being stung by one when solo in the ocean is a real recipe for disaster.

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There you have it! I hope this helped you learn more about some of our amazing Australian wildlife. Yes, we really do have some very deadly creatures, but we also have many that will basically capture your heart. I mean, who couldn’t fall in love with a Quokka?

I’d love to know which your favourite is down below!

love kate X

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An Insight to Australian Wildlife

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MY TRAVEL ABC’S http://www.travelfordifference.com/my-travel-abcs/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/my-travel-abcs/#comments Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:00:25 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5333 I’ve got a light-hearted, cheesy post for you all today! I’m going to jump right in with my answers to the travel ABC’s. I had so much fun answering these – it really made me reminisce on so many amazing adventures, and who doesn’t love to do that?!   Age you went on your first […]

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mountains with globe icon and text 'abc's'

I’ve got a light-hearted, cheesy post for you all today!

I’m going to jump right in with my answers to the travel ABC’s. I had so much fun answering these – it really made me reminisce on so many amazing adventures, and who doesn’t love to do that?!

 

Age you went on your first trip:

My very first trip was when I was just a few days old – I visited Queensland with my parents for a short getaway (not much of a vacation for me as you can imagine). But throughout my entire childhood I visited New Zealand on regular basis to visit my family, so I guess that’s what you would call my first real trip.

Best Beverage you’ve had and where –

It’s a toss up between the Hot Chocolate in Switzerland and the Sangria in Barcelona. Two very different drinks no doubt, but both absolutely delish.

Favourite Cuisine?

The cuisine in Italy has by far been the most memorable for me. It’s very simple, full of carbs and sooooo tasty. I could have had a margarita pizza for breakfast lunch and dinner in Italy – which I almost did. When I’m at home though, I really love Mexican. But, I’ve never been to Mexico so I’m not entirely sure how authentic my take on their food really is.

Girl sitting on metal crate looking over NZ roofs

Favourite / Least Destination and why?

How could I pick only one favourite?! I honestly can’t rate any place I’ve visited in order of preference, as I’ve enjoyed every single one for different reasons. A few that I love though are India, Iceland, New Zealand, Switzerland and Borneo.

The one place I really didn’t enjoy, was Anchorage in Alaska. I absolutely looooooved Alaska as a whole, but Anchorage was a city that I was ready to leave after less than 10 minutes. It was not a friendly, nor inviting city to say the least.

Most enjoyable Event you’ve been to-

To be honest, I’ve never been to an event overseas. I’m pretty low key, but I guess the closest thing that comes to mind was seeing Lion King at London’s West End. That was pretty great!

Which Flight has been the most memorable?

This one isn’t for any good reason… On my flight to Borneo in Business Class (lucky I know), I happened to drop my phone down a crack into the base of the seat. A few of the Royal Brunei staff tried to remove it for a good 20 minutes – they even had a pair of tongs wrapped in fabric to avoid getting a shock on the electrics. I had to stand in the aisle whilst they attempted to remove it, but they were sadly unsuccessful. For the rest of the flight, I was forced to sit with the leg rest up (even during landing) to avoid cracking the screen. They pulled apart the chair when we arrived at Brunei, and they finally retrieved my phone… But the screen was sadly shattered. Hilarious!

Greatest feeling while travelling –

Being immersed in Nature. Throw me into the jungle, the forest, ontop of a mountain or on the edge of a waterfall and I’ll be in literal heaven. I love forgetting about everything stressful in life and being in the middle of somewhere that’s basically untouched by man.

Pink sunset with girl facing away from camera in ocean

What is the Hottest place you’ve travelled to?

In terms of humidity, India was incredibly muggy and sticky. Fiji on the other hand, had the strongest sun I’ve ever felt in my life (remember that I live in Australia, so I’m used to the very hot sun). But in Fiji I burnt more than I ever have – even when smothering myself in sunscreen – So much so, that I had blisters on my shoulders and behind… It was definitely a killer.

The most Influential moment from your travels –

The one that really stands out to me, was when driving through the state of Sabah, Malaysia, and witnessing the extreme destruction caused by Palm Oil Plantations. It made me realise how important it is to make ethical decisions, and how much our impulsive purchases can cause such devastation to the environment and our wildlife. From that moment, every purchase and decision I made were thoughtful and positive.

Which Journey took the longest?

Coming home from Iceland consisted of 5 flights; Northern Iceland to Southern Iceland, Iceland to Paris, Paris to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Melbourne (with an unwanted diversion to Sydney of course). We left Iceland at midnight Australia time on Friday and arrived home at 12 AM on Monday. Let’s just say, 48 hours of non-stop travel is something I will never do again.

Keepsake from your travels –

When watching a ceremony on the Ganges River, amongst the hundreds of boats a young man was jumping from one boat to another, giving spectators and locals roasted chickpeas and masala chai tea. The tea was served in a little terracotta pot that I took home to keep. Sadly a piece broke during the trip, but it still remains as my most cherished keepsake from all of my travels combined.

Which country has the nicest Locals?

The locals in Fiji are so lovely. They’re always open for a chat and have the friendliest smiles I’ve ever encountered. The same goes for the Kiwi’s – There’s something beautiful about strangers smiling and saying hello, and that’s exactly what the people in New Zealand always do.

Moment that you fell in love with travel –

From the very beginning! I always loved ‘going on holiday’ (don’t we all?) but I think my love for travel has always been a little deeper. The moment it really resonated with me was probably in India (a lot about India sorry). I’ve never had a change of mind like I did after being in that country.

Favourite Natural wonder that you’ve visited/seen?

Northern Lights hands down.

What are you Obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?

Nature; waterfalls, mountains, forests and wildlife. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram, (travelfordifferenceblog), you’ll see that nature is basically all I photograph.

How many Passport stamps do you have?

I just recently had to renew my passport, so my stamp pages are looking a little sad. I only have stamps for Fiji, Malaysia, Brunei, Canada and Alaska (USA).

What is the Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?

I think the strangest attraction I’ve ever visited was an exhibition in Amsterdam, called Body Worlds. The exhibition is an exploration of the human body and the way that certain organs and elements of the body behave in certain circumstances. The strange thing though, is that all of the pieces in the museum are real, skinned people. The bodies are donated by a donation program and are taken under a process called Plastination, which prevents the body from decaying. Crazy huh?

Recommended sight, event or experience –

I highly recommend visiting Glacier Bay in Alaska; learning about global warming and the damage on the environment is something the whole world should see. And once again, chasing the Aurora.

What do you like to Splurge on whilst travelling?

I’m not a luxurious traveller by any means, although I do like to splurge on a night or two at some sort of luxury accommodation at some point throughout most trips. My favourite so far has definitely been the Fairmont Chateau in Lake Louise.

The most Touristy thing you’ve done?

I would have to say that the most touristy thing I’ve done was visiting Disney Land Paris. It was a fun day, but the park sadly didn’t live up to my expectations.

Unforgettable travel memory –

I have 3 in mind. The cruise along the Ganges River in Varanasi was a definite highlight due to its cultural and spiritual significance. Once again, the Northern Lights in Iceland, because… who could forget that? And going on a morning river safari in Borneo to spot wild orangutans and their young. All 3 will be ingrained in my mind forever.

What is your dream relaxing Vacation?

For relaxation, I think the Maldives. It just looks so beautiful, but I also want to dive with the Manta Rays there!

Country with the best Wildlife –

Australia. Because I’ve lived here my whole life, it’s so easy to forget just how much wildlife I’m around each and every day. I see kangaroos, wombats, echidnas, foxes, birds and reptiles on a frequent basis (basically daily). It’s pretty incredible! I really loved the wildlife in Canada too though, and I’m sure the wildlife in Africa will be a sure winner… but since I’ve never been there, Australia’s is the best!

Small island with bunch of pine trees, surrounded by turquoise water and mountains

EXcellent view and from where?

I think Canada has shown me the most picturesque views. Lake Louise, Maligne Lake and Spirit Island are the few that come to mind. Rocky mountains and turquoise lakes are something you don’t come by as frequently as you do in Canada.

Years (or longest duration) spent travelling?

I’m not the kind of traveller that leaves the country for years at a time and becomes a nomad. Instead I like to take smaller trips back and forwards from Australia. The longest trip I’ve done was just over 2 months.

Most Zealous sports fans and where?

I think football fans in the UK are some of the most intense. I’ve never been to a game myself, but I had a tour of a stadium in Chelsea and some of the stories were pretty intense. I’ve watched a few games on the TV and the crowd seem to be very exuberant.

love kate X

If you’ve done the travel ABC’s, link your post below! I’d love to read your answers too.

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My Travel ABC's

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THE TRUTH BEHIND RIDING ELEPHANTS http://www.travelfordifference.com/truth-behind-riding-elephants/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/truth-behind-riding-elephants/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:00:34 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5331 One of the most desirable tourist activities to do in Asia is riding elephants. The thought of sitting aboard the largest land animal on earth is something that tourists all over the world utterly desire. The idea of riding on an elephant is exciting there’s no doubt, but unfortunately what we perceive as a calm, peaceful […]

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3 elephants walking down from fort

One of the most desirable tourist activities to do in Asia is riding elephants.

The thought of sitting aboard the largest land animal on earth is something that tourists all over the world utterly desire. The idea of riding on an elephant is exciting there’s no doubt, but unfortunately what we perceive as a calm, peaceful and exciting ride, is really the mask of a dark and destructive industry that has been completely hidden from the eyes of the tourism world.

Essentially, riding elephants is sucking travellers into a destructive exploitation trap.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been one of these travellers too. I’ve ridden on a gentle giant with complete ignorance on the brutal background, so I understand the desire, I really do. But thankfully, I’ve become a little more aware of the impacts of animal exploitation and how travellers constantly contribute to their demise, and as a result, the desire to ride on an elephant has completely been removed from my mind.

If you want to find the facts straight up, I’m sure you could just google a few reasons as to why you shouldn’t ride elephants. But instead, I’m going to give my two cents for my viewers who need to know the truth from someone who’s been in their shoes too.

If you’re like me, and you’ve ridden an elephant before without any real knowledge of this industry, be prepared – I may just break your heart.

Tourists riding elephant with red cape draping over basket

 

So, I’m just going to cut to the chase.

In order for travellers, just like you and I, to ride an elephant during our blissful vacations, elephants are forced to endure a process of torture in order to be submissive to humans. This process is labelled, Phajaan – aka. The Crush… It already sounds brutal right?

Phajaan is defined as a ‘ceremony’ that divorces the baby elephant from its spirit. It’s a cultural act that originated in India hundreds of years ago, which “is said to have stemmed from the belief that the tribe’s Shaman can separate the spirit of an elephant from its body, in effect driving the willful and wild spirit out of an elephant and leaving it under the control of its handlers or mahouts”.

Unfortunately though, the nature of an elephant is far from willing, and this is where things get really ugly.

This ‘cultural ceremony’, Phajaan, begins for an elephant at the young age of 3. Young calves are forcefully taken from the wild at no bids to their own, leaving the entire family as evidence of human destruction. In order for humans to come in contact with the calf, poaching is the most common method of removal.

For each young elephant that is removed from the wilderness, it’s estimated that 4-5 of its innocent family members are killed as a result – which the young are often forced to watch.

Once in captivity, the calves are forcefully dragged into small cages, which is where the term ‘The Crush” comes into play. Here, the elephants are tethered to the cage in order for their limbs to be stretched. They are tied down to prevent kicking, striking, swinging of the head or causing harm to the perpetrators. Ironic right?

They are repeatedly beaten, stabbed and burned with metal tools, shocked with electric prods and tortured with sticks, chains and sometimes nails. They’re screamed at and abused more than you could bear to hear, and are sadly treated like nothing more than a literal piece of dirt – No joke.

Bull hooks are stabbed into the animal’s head and neck and are tugged at the ears to teach them to obey the leader’s commands. There have been many cases of elephant’s ears being completely torn and ripped apart from this forceful treatment, as well as having stab wounds from nails on the base of their feet.

The elephants are deprived of all food, water and sleep during this process to increase the likelihood of becoming submissive to humans.

After several days and often weeks of brutal torture, the starving, dehydrated, sleep deprived elephants are manipulated to leave the cage with their first welcoming of food, but once removed they are continuously beaten until the Mahout gains complete control.

It’s cruel, barbaric and as the same suggests, utterly soul breaking. And unfortunately, it also doesn’t stop there.

Once ‘domesticated’, an elephant in Asia works for hours on end, for many days in a row, with no access to food and water for extended durations of time. They’re held captive, removed from their home and tortured into submission for the rest of their lives.

Their spines are also not equipped to hold more than 150kg at a time – It may seem like a very low figure considering the sheer size of an elephant, but unlike a horse or camel, their bodies are not built to carry anything other than their own skin. So when you add together the Mahout, the basket and the 2 people that frequently ride on its back, I certainly have my doubts on how way this limit is handled.

Sadly, elephants have never, and will never, be equipped for human interaction – and it’s up for us to respect that.

You may be questioning whether there is any difference between the taming of a wild or uneducated horse, but coming from somewhat knowledge and experience, there are absolutely no comparisons. Horses are tamed with kindness and trust, and actually enjoy human interaction. But for elephants, this the complete and utter opposite.

man riding elephant and stabbing with hook

Now, I’m not claiming that this exact process is used upon every single elephant that sadly ends in the tourism ‘career’… For the elephants that have been bred in captivity, the force of submission isn’t as intense. But like I said, it’s in an elephant’s wild nature to avoid all human connection – I once again, have a lot of doubts that any of an elephants taming is gentle nor kind.

It is said that there are around 2700 domesticated elephants, and between 2000, 3000 wild elephants in Thailand alone. If you add it all up, that’s a lot of torture, a lot of death, and a whole lot of destruction.

I guess the main message is, if you’re not certain of the background, morals and treatment of these animals, there’s no certainty that cruelty isn’t involved – Because sadly animal exploitation doesn’t just stop with elephants. Taking selfies with tigers, holding sea turtles, watching dancing monkeys or dancing cobras, seeing dolphin shows and drinking civet coffee are just a few of the others that need to be addressed.

It’s terribly sad when a lot of the travellers that partake in these acts are true animal lovers at heart, but they are just blinded by the hidden world of animals in the tourist industry.

We are sadly fueling a side of tourism that’s damaging, destructive and undoubtedly cruel. In this instance, ignorance is far from bliss.

So, when you see an elephant trekking with an excited human on their back, I ask you to look into their eyes. Look at the evident pain that lies beneath them and ask yourself ‘is it really worth it’?

Is your 10 minutes of joy and thrill, really enough reason for a lifetime of torture and suffering?

love kate X

[ Read Next: Remove These From Your Bucket List ]

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The Truth Behind Riding Elephants - Phajaan

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DOES TRAVEL REALLY HELP YOU FIND YOURSELF? http://www.travelfordifference.com/does-travel-find-yourself/ http://www.travelfordifference.com/does-travel-find-yourself/#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 08:00:27 +0000 http://www.travelfordifference.com/?p=5315   You know that saying “travel far enough you meet yourself”? Well after 22 years of trying to figure myself out, it suddenly occured to me that I’ve finally discovered who I really want to be. After skimming through my list of quotes that inspire wanderlust, I really began to wonder about the true meaning behind the […]

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Side view of woman walking across bridge in the jungle

 

You know that saying “travel far enough you meet yourself”?

Well after 22 years of trying to figure myself out, it suddenly occured to me that I’ve finally discovered who I really want to be.

After skimming through my list of quotes that inspire wanderlust, I really began to wonder about the true meaning behind the term of meeting yourself. I began to dwell on how I think this happened to me; what I did to find my true self, and whether this is something that actually occurred or if it’s rather just my state of mind.

Can you really find yourself whilst travelling? Or is this quote nothing more than just a source of inspiration?

I caught myself in my frequently confused headspace and suddenly realised that no, this really isn’t just a term of encouragement, and yes, you actually can find yourself whilst on the road – And here’s how:

Travelling throws you in the deep end. Being on the road makes you leave behind the one and only thing you’re truly certain about. You walk away from the comfort of your home, your family, your friends and your routine, and you’re forced to make decisions that you never would otherwise.

You have the complete power to fully think, what am I going to do today? No really, what am I actually going to do today?

Your other commitments are thrown out the window and the entire world suddenly becomes accessible at your leisure. You’re no longer consumed by your thoughts or your normal routine and your mind is open to truly discover who you want to be, rather than who society wants you to be.

When you remove yourself from the struggles of juggling everyday life, work, family and daily necessities, you’re left with nothing but freedom. Freedom to explore your own thoughts without the constant stresses of living a balanced life.

There aren’t any bills staring at you every morning as you make your morning coffee. There aren’t any colleagues telling you what to do as you walk into the office. There aren’t the everyday chores like mowing the lawn or cleaning the house. There aren’t any lists for you to complete in order to survive your inevitably stressful life. Basically, there just aren’t any distractions.

Without the stress of these constant interferences, your thoughts become clear – solely because travel is the only time in any life that you escape the voices telling you how to live your day, and how to live your life. You have the total freedom to explore the world exactly how you please and to become stuck in your headspace with the ultimate flexibility. You become completely consumed by your authentic thoughts that you finally come to learn about the important things in life.

You learn to prioritise the things that mean a lot to you, likewise to the those that you need not take for granted. You’ll learn to accept the small things, and forget about the those that no longer matter. Your materialistic needs and toxic spare time are set to the back of your mind, and the holiday, vacation or adventure you embark on becomes a portion of your life where you’re totally and utterly free.

Girl sitting on top of hill with ocean and roof tops in background

 

That petty argument you had with your friend which caused a lot of distance, merely becomes something that you learn to overcome. The first world problems that you constantly complain about, become things that you learn to foresee. And that silly job that makes you miserable becomes something that you no longer stand for.

You begin to realise how important it is to love yourself, even through the days when you feel down or when work entirely consumes you. You realise, that even though you may not be the most confident, there are millions of others who don’t have the ability to even criticise their appearance.

You realise that the ability to travel is a privilege, and that you must never see your life as anything other than a blessing. You realise that without love, this world would be so dark.

Essentially, being away from what brings you security teaches you how to cherish every day as if it’s your last. You discover which things mean the most to you, simply as there isn’t anyone to tell you otherwise.

You lose the self you’ve always known, in order to find the real you. That busy working lifestyle, that self-constructive mindset and that active online personality is totally thrown down the drain. You are still you, but one without the things that you find comfort in during each every day. You become your authentic self when the everyday necessities are no longer there to consume you.

You become open minded by the scale of the world, the diversity that lies within it and that the little bubble you live in isn’t really all there is. The things that occur on the road will often leave you confused; they’ll hurt you, they’ll scare you, and they’ll certainly make you smile. But they’ll make you eternally grateful for the life you live back home, and for the little things that you often pushed aside.

After all, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone – and that’s the exact reason that you’ll find yourself whilst travelling. You are essentially in the big wide world with nothing but the necessities; you bring the things that you really need, and everything else is gone.

You’re pushed into the world with a clear head, minimal possessions and a longing to experience new things.

Is there a recipe for being at peace with who you are? Of course not, and there’s also no certainty that you’re going to just get on a plane and suddenly have an epiphany… But one day you’ll be in the middle of somewhere that you’ve always desired, sitting on the edge of a beautiful location and you’ll think “life is so much bigger than this“. Your mind will click and you’ll suddenly realise that if you’re not doing what you love, what is the point?

You only live once, and no matter how hard you try to find your path whilst sitting on your bed in a life that you’ve alway known, nothing will help you find your belonging like travel will.

Living a meaningful life has no bible, but stepping away all that you know is the very first step. If you’re stuck in a rut not knowing what path’s for you, go and climb a mountain. If you’re in a toxic relationship that’s confined your every breath, go to a remote destination. If you’re confused about your entire life and who you want to be, simply go and travel.

If I can find myself, I have no doubt that you can too.

love kate X

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Does travel really help you find yourself?

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