My scariest moments have been some of the most beautiful, from almost freezing to death on top of the Worlds largest train, to seeing humpback whales up close, when I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone is when I have had my best experiences through my travels to every country.
- Sneaking on board the Iron Ore train in Mauritania
Riding the Worlds longest train from Choum which is a tiny village in the middle of the Sahara to Nouadhibou which is the second largest city in Mauritania will forever remain my favorite travel experience.
The challenge of getting to Choum, helping locals carry donkeys, goats and chicken onboard the train, snuggling up with my friends to stay warm and passing the World’s second largest monolith in the sunset, only beaten by Ayers Rock in Australia. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to arrange the Vikings in Africa Road trip, where we drove from Norway to Ghana in the summer of 2019.
2. Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga
My scariest moment while traveling was when I had booked a tour to swim with whales in Tonga, where it was just me and the captain on board. When he shouted “jump” I got into the water and found two humpback whales just a few meters away from me. The mother was just drifting slowly, while the child was curious and swam towards me before turning around and dissapearing. The experience was less than a minute, but will be remembered for a lifetime.
Pakistan is a country that is not much featured in tourism advertisements and travel blogs. Much because very few people travel there. Every year over a million tourist come to Nepal to see the Himalayan mountains, but very few make it to the equally beautiful mountains that exist in Pakistan. As a bonus, Pakistan has some of the most hospitable people in the World.
Equatorial Guinea was for me the hardest country to visit in the World. It is perfectly safe, and well developed, but it took me almost two years to get the visa. When I got there it was well worth it. There were hikes, waterfalls, nice beaches and these gigantic leatherback turtles (which can be over 900kg) laying their eggs in the sand when I was camping at Ureka Beach. Also watching hundreds of green turtle eggs hatch at full moon, and see them sprint for the ocean on Kabalana Beach in Sri Lanka was an incredible experience.
5. Camping next to the Worlds talles waterfall in Venezuela
In February 2018 it was nearly impossible to visit the Worlds talles waterfall, not because of the security situation in the country, but because the airport in Canaima had been closed for months because of protests. Luckily there was a goverment official going there and we got a chance to get onboard his flight and be the only ones to camp around the waterfall.
6. Attending voodoo dancing ceremonies in the villages of Burkina Faso
The good thing about driving 6 months through West Africa is that we got to go through a lot of countryside where few or no travelers have set their foot before. One of these places was a village called Niamadougo in Burkina Faso where a village elder had died and we got to see a ceremony where the goal was to chase away the evil spirits. Animal sacrifices, whipping of spectators and dancing with huge masks was all part of this tradition.
7. Climbing one of the Worlds most active volcanoes in Vanuatu
Mount Yasur is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the World and is situated on a small island called Tanna in the island nation of Vanuatu. I was invited to stay with the mayor of the island in a village when I was there and we went hiking to the top of the volcano twice to see lava being shot high above our heads. After a week in the village my phone had no battery, and I ended up coming to the airport one day late. Luckily there was a pilot who was about to take off who I got to hitchhike with.
8. Volunteering for the Red Cross in Dominica after the hurricanes
I had previously been working for and volunteering with the Red Cross in Norway and when Hurricane Maria hit the Carribbean in 2017 I signed up to volunteer on their WASH team (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) of the Red Cross where we scouted for suitable rivers to pump and filter freshwater into big bags holding about 10 000 liters. Every second day these had to be filled again.
As 95 of the buildings had been damaged and there was no electricity, and I was camping in the garden of a local doctor who had his roof fly off. We therefore had to cook on bonfires under the star sky every day.
9. Scubadiving with reefsharks and jellyfish in Palau
Palau will forever remain my favorite dive destination. In addition to good caves for diving, lots of sharks and other animals they have a fresh water lake full of jellyfish that you can swim in. Permits are quite expensive, but its worth it. This place is one of a kind.
10. Riding full speed on top of buses and trains in Bangladesh
India, Nepal and Pakistan are also countries where I have been riding on top of trains and buses, but in Bangladesh it was possible to do almost everywhere. I would take a seat on top of a train instead of a first class seat inside the train anytime!
11. Blowing up dynamite in the silver mines in Potosi, Bolivia
For a lot of people the salt mines of Uyuni remain the highlight of their visit to Bolivia, but I found this very similar to other salt pans around the World. What I found much more interesting was to go to the silver mines in Potosi where you childred were drinking pure alcohol, chewing cocoa leafs and smoking heavy cigarettes to work night and day in the silver mines. We bought some dynamite before going in, and I have never run faster in my life than when I had lit one of them on fire and felt the ground shaking below me.
12. Safari with tapirs, capybaras and dwarf parrots in Pantanal, Brazil
If you go on safaris in East or Southern Africa you will see animals you have heard about many times before such as lions, giraffes and hippos. When you go to Pantanal in Brazil you will most likely discover animals that you didn’t even know existed like capybaras, tapirs etc. Another cool thing is that you can do safari on horseback and in kayaks while fishing piranhas that you can chose to grill in the evening, or to feed to wild crocodiles and eagles.
13. Watching artistic performances in Sinju Kindergarten, North Korea
Sinju Kindergarten is famous for training young children to perform at the Arirang Mass Games that take place in the capital Pyongyang in August/ September every year. Children are trained to draw, sing, play instruments, act in theaters, dance and do sports. It was crazy how well disciplined and trained these children were.
14. Attending a bull jumping ceremony in Omo Valley Ethiopia
When I was in Southern Omo Valley I was lucky enough to attend a marriage ceremony in the Hamar tribe, where a man had to jump naked over bulls to prove himself ready for marriage and women of the family he was marrying had to prove their devotion to the marriage by letting themselves get whipped with sticks. The women were euphoric in their eyes and asked for more whipping even though their backs were already dripping with blood.
15. Visiting the Karni Mata temple where rats are worshipped in India
In a small town called Deshnok there is a temple where monks worship the 25 000 rats that live there. They lay out bowls of fresh milk and different types of bread and pastries there every morning, and before they are allowed to eat their food they have to let the rats taste it first. Entry to the temple is free, but you should prepare to throw away your socks as they will be full of rat poop afterwards.
16. Watching tribal dance performances in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a small country north of Australia which a lot of people have not heard about, but really should have. From all the 7000 languages that exist in the World, about a thousand of them are spoken in Papua New Guinea. It is one of the most diverse countries in the World, where the tribes come to show off their culture at the Hiri Moale festival that I was lucky enough to attend.
17. Mud Bathing in the Volcan de Lodo el Totumo, Colombia
A 45 minute drive from Cartagena there is an active volcano where you can take a bath in naturally heated mud. It’s a quite surreal experience, as it feels like swimming in hot chocolate. A day trip from Cartagena cost about 30usd and was worth every penny!
Whenever I am couchsurfing with a teacher or walk by a private school offering English classes, I ask if I could join. I stayed one month with an English teacher in Sudan and a few days with an English teacher in Kabul where I was invited to teach English classes and connect with students.
19. Feeding wild hyenas in Harar, Ethiopia
Harar is a city in Eastern Ethiopia where you are likely to not get much sleep. Why? Because at night there are wild hyenas roaming the streets in search of food in the trash. There are two men in this city who call for the hyenas every night to give them food and for a small charge he even lets tourist feed them from their mouth.
20. Cycling down Los Yungas, aka “the Death Road” in Bolivia
I like downhill biking and one of my favorite places to do so was on the Los Yungas outside of La Paz in Bolivia. Here you descend from 4600meters to 1200meters, cycling through different climates and ending up with a beer in a jacuzzi at the end with a t-shirt saying “I survived the Death Road”.