Panama Canal and City

One of the most remarkable man made infrastructure I have ever seen. The Panama Canal at 80 kilometers long uses a system of three locks where these massive ships get elevated from sea level to an impressive 26 meters! The canal cuts through the isthmus of Panama through some low mountains at the Culebra Cut and an reservoir called Gatun Lake. The whole trip takes only 8 to 10 hours which saves a lot of time compared to travelling around the continent of South America! Surrounding the canal are primary tropical rainforests that act as sponges for the canal in times of high rainfall…it shows that building with nature is the way to go! Panama City is a modern, largely Americanised metroplolis, with lively residents 😊 

Old town
Down town

Leaf-cutter Ant

The famous leaf-cutter ant, Atta, is endemic to Central and South America. They can carry leaves up to 3x their body weight and use the gathered leaves for growing a special fungus that they use as food. Leaf-cutter ant colonies are some of the most complex societies in the animal kingdom with a sophisticated caste system…also their mounds, which go to 9 meters deep and 30 meters accros, have in-built ventilation and waste disposal systems! The queen of the ant colony is massive (3x bigger than anyone else) and can live for as long as 15 years producing 1000 eggs a day! 💪 🐜🐜🐜 Taken in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica 

Åndalsnes, Norway

Spent several days in the awesome Norwegian fjords with hundreds of waterfalls and peaceful surroundings. The magnificent scenery was shaped by past glaciers that have eroded the rock to form steep U-shaped valleys. When the glaciers retreated, some of the valleys became filled by the ocean, creating the sublime fjords of Norway. Some of the fjords are over 1300 meters deep! Thousands of waterfalls dot this pristine and rugged landscape making it a heaven for outdoor sports such as hiking, skiing and fishing. The train ride from Dombås to Åndalsnes was one of the most scenic train rides I have ever experienced. Particularly towards the end when the train descends to sea level towards the foot of the fjord at Åndalsnes. The nearby Trollstigen and Trollveggen and are the two main highlights of the region. Trollstigen is a 20km breathtaking zigzagging road that crawls up over a mountain pass crossing many waterfalls along the way. Tourists from all over the world come to Trollstigen during the summer to witness it for themselves. Trollveggen is in the adjacent valley and is Europe’s highest vertical cliff at over 1000 meters high. At the top of the of the cliff several sharp rocks can be seen which are referred to as the “trolls teeth”:P. Base jumping was popular here, but after several fatal accidents this has now been banned.

Romsdalseggen is a 10km hike that is definitely worth doing. From Åndalsnes, take a bus to the other side of the nearby mountain and walk the entire path back to Åndalsnes. It takes approximately 6 to 8 hours and passes through pristine landscape and very steep mountain cliffs. At some point the cliff almost go vertically down left and right of the path. You should not have fear of heights when attempting this walk!

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, so in order to save a bit of money you can opt to camp in the many campgrounds for about 14 euro’s for two persons and make use of the facilities. We stayed at the Åndalsnes camping ground which was a pleasant place to stay 🙂

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Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are nine beautiful tropical islands dotted in the Andaman Sea, not too far from mainland Thailand in Khao Lak. Established as a national park in 1982, they offer some of Thailand’s best snorkeling and diving. Above water, there is also substantial wildlife, like nicobar pigeons, mangrove monitor lizard and flying fox! Islands number 1-3 are closed too all tourist activity as they are protected for turtle conservation. Island number 3 is even owned by the Thai princess. Islands number 4 and 8 are the only two islands where you can stay overnight. This can be done in simple bungalows or in tents that are already set up for you when you arrive. Similan can only be visited from November – April, since it is closed during the monsoon season. Fishing is illegal in the Similan National Park. Sadly during the monsoon season in particular, fisherman enter the park and damage coral reefs and local fish stocks. Let’s hope this situation will improve in the future. Otherwise it is an amazing place. The huge rock formations are simply stunning below and above water. I can highly recommend these islands! Try to take smaller tour operators as the larger ones are very commercial and bring with them 30+ tourists (half of them usually can’t swim :P) on one boat.

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