Well that’s it, 2017 wrapped up and is now in the memory box!
To say that 2017 was pretty much (actually, I’m almost positive it was) my best year to date, is probably an understatement. Honestly, I didn’t realise that at the time, or even in the same year. But thankfully this time of the year has a way of pulling these things out of you.
The realisation came when I was sitting at the dinner table on Christmas with my family. Unlike ‘thanksgiving’ where you go around and say what you’re thankful for (because, we don’t really do that corny stuff, sorry America), we went around and shared our best parts of 2017.
And Wow, let’s just say you can do a lot in a year!
To keep in tune with this time of the year where we reflect, self congratulate and really, show ourselves off a little bit, here’s my best bits of 2017. As well as just showing off, writing down what made 2017 brilliant for me also lets me go back to those moments and remember, relive and appreciate them. And remember how lucky I am to be living the life I am.
1. Witnessed the best Sunset and Sunrise in New Zealand.
Hiking up to the top of Gertrude Saddle just as everyone was hiking down, setting up camp and making some hot chocolate while playing with the Kea’s and waiting for the sun to drop. It was the first time I made the epic hike up Gertrude (and you can read more about it here) and to say we got the best weather, was an understatement. I mean, look at that view!!
This was one of my biggest highlights of 2017.
Not only was it an epic camping spot, which offered some insane views, clear skies and epic shooting stars. It was an adventure with someone who is now, rarely away from my side, especially when adventures are involved!
2. Swam with Sharks and Turtles in the warm waters of the Gili Islands
I planned to stay in the Gili islands for 3 days, the sole purpose, to get my PADI certification. But eight days later I said a heartbreaking goodbye to the Gili Islands – where I could happily stay – with a Rescue Divers certificate and some epic Scuba Diving under my belt and a great tan!
Other than when I went Cage Diving with Great White Sharks, I have never been in the water with them. Until I plunged into the warm waters of the Gili Islands. Black tip and White tip reef sharks were the two I spotted on my several dives and instead of crapping myself – like I thought I might – it was hypnotizing to watch them.
Safe to say the sharks were the highlight, but swimming with turtles was the most graceful and tranquil underwater experience I’ve ever had. And the handy thing having Advanced PADI and Rescue under your belt? We dived deeper to escape the snorkeling and first time divers.
If anyone is heading over to the Gili Islands, definitely check out Blue Marlin Dive School. They got me through my PADI Open Water, Advanced PADI and stressed me the hell out on my Rescue Divers Course. They are awesome!
3. I walked the West Highland Way with my Mum
One of the great Scottish walks, if not, the most well known! 97 miles from Milngavie to Fort William, this multi-day hike takes you through some of the best countryside in Scotland. You’ll climb (small) mountains, trudge through marsh, wander through pine forest and walk around the banks of Loch’s!
For those adventurers that love a good walk, this is pretty great, although, super busy. However, it was a dream of my Mum’s to one day walk the West Highland Way. She just didn’t want to do the whole ‘camping thing’ – her words, not mine.
With the help of Macs Adventure myself and my mum walked the section from Crianlarich to Fort William in August. While it was testing at times, especially when the weather was bad or hunger (hanger) hit, it was really nice to fall into a bed at the end of the day, rather than a wet tent.
But not only that, it felt so great to be able to take my mum and see her achieve her dream and tick one more thing off her bucket list.
4. Learnt to ride a motorbike in Burma
I feel like I need to add some fire or speed marks(?) behind my wee scooter to show I’m actually moving ha!
Believe it or not, I’ve always been pretty terrified of riding a motorbike. Sitting on the back of one, fine, but driving it and actually being responsible for it, no. Was not on the cards for me.
But EVERYONE kept telling me Burma (or Myanmar) was the perfect place to test drive these things. Mainly because, if you fall, you’re likely to land on sand rather than concrete. So I thought, F**k it lets give it a shot.
There’s absolutely no better way to explore Myanmar than driving around, exploring the side streets and trying to out race each other on the concrete roads.
5. Took myself on a Romantic Hot Air Balloon Ride in Turkey
Cappadocia in Turkey is like stepping into an Alien planet. Not like the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, this place is definitely more of a spot for those on honeymoon or couples. Why? Well it’s probably the most famous place in the world for a hot air balloon ride. Which is also pretty romantic stuff, but no reason I couldn’t take myself on a romantic date, right?
Well, this beautiful, weird and alien like landscape is unbelievably beautiful when lit up with the first light of the morning. Not only that, there are LOADS of other hot air balloons all going up in succession and that, really, just makes the whole thing more magical.
6. Got to Basecamp of Nanga Parbat in Pakistan
The first time I’ve climbed higher than 3000 metres, the first time I got to 4000 meters and the first time ever getting to basecamp of a Himalayan mountain. Oh and also my first time in Pakistan (which is awesome, read more here!). Safe to say this was a pretty epic highlight of my year.
The best part – sitting at the hut on basecamp, drinking green tea and then it starts to snow. Perfection.
Ps. It’s also the first time I’ve ever experienced Altitude Sickness. It Sucks.
7. Escaped to the highlands of Scotland for a Weekend
Hired a car, packed it up with as much stuff as we could fit – including LOADS of blankets – and road tripped our way to the Cairngorms.
Found a place to park for free and wandered into the woods in search of a campsite. Wandering through the woods we entered a valley where a young deer was grazing. There under 3 trees, out of sight, close to a river and surrounded by woods we pitched the tent.
Played frisbee, sang along to the Ukulele and drank a lot of hot chocolate before watching one of the best sunsets through the trees.
I could do with more morning views like this.
8. Spent Christmas with my Family after 2 years on the road
It’s hard to realise how important big holidays such as Christmas is until you don’t really have one for a while. Even more how much you enjoy spending time with your family.
While it is often a mad rush to catch up, involves a lot of travelling and sometimes chaos, it’s nice to do after 2 years without it.
9. Partnered up with a pretty cool guy to help Guide tours in Nepal
Callum is a pretty wicked guy (I’ll try not to be too bias) not only does he love anything adventurous, but he loves to travel and has combined the two to set up his own business.
River and Soul Adventures – Specialising in Kayaking/Rafting trips in Nepal.
He seems to think I’m pretty cool too. So as of 2018 you’ll see me on the rafting trip in April co-guiding.
Pretty sweet right? Nepal was one of the first countries I ever went to alone and it pretty much sparked my travel bug since. So I could say, if it wasn’t for Nepal, my life would be incredibly different right now.
10. Saw Puffin’s in the wild which blew my mind!
Spending a few days camping in the Farne Islands and took a day trip out to see the Puffins.
Now, funny story. I had a completely different idea of what puffins looked like. Mainly, because all the photos you see of them are close ups and for some reason, i missed the whole flying thing.
Turns out Puffins are TINY, can fly and live in burrows! Whaaaaatttt! This completely blew my mind and is now a running joke in Callum’s family.
But it was an epic day getting so close to them!
So 2017 wrapped with a Bang and a little too much alcohol and now we are already speeding our way through 2018.
Here’s hoping it will be as epic as 2017!
What were your highlights of 2017?