ITINERARY (ɅɪˈTɪN(Ə)(RƏ)RI,ɪ-/) NOUN
A PLANNED ROUTE OR JOURNEY.
“HIS ITINERARY INCLUDED A VISIT TO THE GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS”
If you think asking your employer to take a sabbatical is tough, imagine the work ahead of you when they say yes. How in the world do you decide where to go, what to do and how not to return disappointed that you didn’t see/do enough? I already shared with you my process for planning trips (Journeys // Planning) – the sabbatical required a lengthier and more thought out version of that process. What you are left with after the planning is a nice itinerary (or for me – a multi tabbed spreadsheet that would bring tears to the eyes of a spreadsheet lover).
Nerd jokes aside – our planning is done and we are ready to go. We knew what we wanted to get out of the trip and where we would be able to get it. The initial itinerary provided room for spontaneity and has since been further fleshed out. The itinerary still does not feel real and is definitely one for the books.
Here is a snap shot of our itinerary and how we are choosing to spend our sabbatical navigating the world.
//THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
No trip around the world is complete without a U.S. road trip in a Mustang convertible. It’s a rite of passage that I never did when I was younger – no better way to get the travel juices flowing. We tackled this not only in the deep South, but also the wild wild west.
//GALAPAGOS ISLANDS & ECUADOR
Time to feed our inner David Attenborough and head south to Ecuador. After a few days exploring the capital city of Quito we hop on a small boat to the world’s best nature viewing destination – the Galápagos Islands. The only thing on the agenda is donning our wet suits and getting up close and personal with wildlife.
//PATAGONIA – ARGENTINA & CHILE
Time to trade in the boat and wet suits for tents and hiking boots. We’ll kick off this leg of the trip with tango, Malbec, and empanadas in Buenos Aires before making our way through to gorgeous Patagonia (Destinations // Patagonia) – a region shared by Argentina and Chile, with the Andes Mountains as its dividing line.
Comprised of two islands, New Zealand is an adventure lover’s paradise. Up until now our trip has been quite structured – New Zealand is where this changes. We have flights into the city of Auckland, located on the North island, flights out of the south island’s Christchurch, a 4X4 car, campaign gear, and 3.5 weeks to simply be. Be sure to check out Destinations // New Zealand for a complete overview of the country. Our individual pitstops have been included below.
A hop, skip, and a jump away – we find ourselves in Australia. Having been to Oz a couple times, we get the opportunity to sync up with friends over the holidays and have some more down time. After a visit to Sydney, we make our way out to sacred Uluru, and then spend Christmas in a tree house in Cairns. Lazy days at the beach and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef will likely keep us occupied.
Route: Sydney – Uluru – Cairns – Port Douglas
Hong Kong serves as our base for exploration through South East Asia. We are lucky to have good friends here so we get to spend a rocking New Years celebration with them as well as a few days downtime before our adventures continue. Having been to Hong Kong before, we look forward to getting deeper into exploring the city and taking advantage of what it has to offer – especially the dim sum. Yum.
Route: Hong Kong
Having only opened its doors to tourism in 2012, Myanmar offers us a glimpse into a land that is relatively unspoilt. As our first real foray into South East Asia we will visit the country’s bustling capital city, attempt to explore the thousands of temples in Bagan and take the opportunity to experience life on the vast and serene Lake Inle. We hope to fall in love with this place and be able to share stories of what it once was before tourism developed here.
Route: Yangon – Bagan – Lake Inle
Ever feel like you are the only one of your friends that hasn’t been to Vietnam? Yea – that’s me and that all changes now. We will plant ourselves in hectic Ho Chi Minh City and slowly work our way north over the 3,000km+ coastline to the capital city of Hanoi. From Hanoi we will make our way both north to the rice paddy filled mountains for a trekking adventure as well as back to the coast for a jaunt around picturesque Halong Bay. I hope they have enough spring rolls, beef in a leaf, and pho to keep us going.
Route: Ho Chi Minh City – Nha Trang – Hoi An – Hue – Hanoi – Sapa – Halong Bay
Often listed on many a backpacker trail guide, we venture to the landlocked country in the heart of South East Asia to see what all the fuss is about. Starting north in Luang Prabang we will spend time exploring life on the Mekong River, head to the reformed party city of central Laos, Vang Vieng, and work our way south to the capital city of Vientiane. I don’t know much about the history of Laos or have any idea what to expect on our adventure. I suppose this is the epitome of exploration and I love it.
Route: Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng – Vientiane
When you think of Cambodia, Angelina Jolie and temples probably come to mind. What doesn’t is the dark history and mass killings that the country endured during the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. We kick off our trip in capital city Phnom Penh for a bit of reflection and a history lesson. Of course no trip to Cambodia is complete without a visit the Angkor Wat Archaeological Center in Siem Reap. Temples, temples, and more temples.
Route: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
Not initially on our travel hit list, tales from the road made Philippines shoot up in priority. With a few months of solid travelling under our belts it is time to slow things down a bit. After a visit to the northern mountains of Luzon, we swap our trekking gear for bathing suits, snorkel gear and sun tan oil and head out to the gorgeous islands. With over 7000 islands to choose from we have our work cut out for us. We prepared ourselves to be spoiled with white sand beaches and some of the most pristine coral gardens in the world.
Route: Manilla – Sagada – Coron – Puerto Princesa – El Nido – Cebu – Bohol – Boracay
//MAlAYSIA & BORNEO
After travelling in some of the most remote places in South East Asia we will need a dose of big city life and civilization. Next stop Kuala Lumpur. We wont let ourselves get too comfortable, as after our dose we fly over to the Malaysian Borneo. Our eyes will be permanently peeled for wildlife as we make our way deeper and deeper into the jungle. We will also set out to tackle the summit of the highest mountain in South East Asia – Mt Kinabalu. What to do after a mountain summit? Relax. That’s exactly what we intend to do in Borneo’s tropical Gaya Island.
Route: Kuala Lumpur – Sandakan – Sepilok – Abai – Sukau – Kota Kinabalu – Gaya Island
//NEPAL – EVEREST BASE CAMP
I have always had a fascination with Mt. Everest. Having trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and summited Kilimanjaro – the roof of Africa, it only seemed natural to take my trusty boots to Nepal. We’ll be taking a slightly different route via Gokyo lakes and will actually be overnighting with expedition teams who are preparing for their summit attempts at Base Camp. Bring on the adventure.
Route: Lukla to Phakding – Phakding to Namche – Namche to Thame – Thame (Acclimatisation Day) – Thame to Lumdeng – Lumdeng to Gokyo – Gokyo to Thangna – Thagna to Dzongla – Dzongla to Lobuche – Lobuche to Gorakshep – Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp – Everest Base Camp to Periche – Periche to Tashinga – Tashinga to Monjo – Monjo to Lukla
For a full overviw of the Everest Base Camp Trek be sure to visit Destinations // Everest Base Camp Trek.
India is spectacular and is an assault on the senses. We were looking for a place that would allow us to not only unwind after Everest, but also give us a chance to explore (and also enroute back home to London). India does just that. We spend a couple days in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, treat ourselves to the decadent side of Goa, and explore the backwaters of Kerala. Perfect way to round out our trip before we venture home.
Route: Mumbai – Goa – Kochin – Munnar – Thekkady – Allepey – Kochin