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Hello965 Friends: Antarctica

Antarctica: Life’s Greatest Challenge
by: Arwa Abulhasan

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There was a frenzy of excited passengers on the slippery decks of the Sea Spirit as soon as the first iceberg was spotted.   We were approaching Antarctica, the icy continent. At that moment in time we were in the infamous Drake Passage, which is similar to an oceanic roller coaster, and we were still 10 hours away from Antarctica, but we were getting closer, and the excitement was palpable.

The 2041 International Expedition to Antarctica had started two days ago in Ushuaia, Argentina where the stellar 2041 team bombarded us with safety briefings, lectures on sustainability, climate change, leadership, and most importantly, the inspiring story of  Robert Swan’s walk to the South Pole and how that spurred him to be a champion in the preservation of Antarctica.

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The next ten days made every one of the 81 expedition participants want to dedicate their life to the preservation of this pristine continent. Antarctica was truly breathtaking and every hike or zodiac cruise would prove to us that it was incomparable to any other place on earth. The expedition activities ranged from gentle walks on the ice to reflect and write in our journals, to camping on the ice in -5 degrees Celsius, and hiking a crevasse filled glacier in rope teams.   And for the truly daring, there was the much anticipated polar plunge where you jump into the icy Antarctic waters just for fun. But what set this expedition apart was that every activity was planned perfectly with safety at the forefront. Every staff member was fully informed and always there to ensure the animals’ wellbeing and our safety.

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Luck is also a big art of any expedition to Antarctica. Mother Nature took from us a chance to hike the brown’s bluff glacier because the waters were very icy that day and we would have been stranded for days or weeks perhaps, if we had attempted to go there. But, when life gives you lemons, you learn how to make lemonade. Our lemonade was landing on a large piece of sea ice, which is essentially frozen ocean, and not something that has broken off from a glacier. In return, Mother Nature treated us with the rare opportunity to see around 30 orcas swimming and jumping around our vessel and later, an immense sperm whale who came close enough for some amazing photographs.

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In between the ice landings and zodiac cruises to view the wildlife, we had lectures about the history, geology, and wildlife of the continent, as well as a myriad of talks on leadership and sustainability. We even got the opportunity to help one of our fellow expeditioners collect water specimens to look for microplastics in the Antarctic ocean, and another to test solar panels on the vessel.

PC: 2041

PC: 2041

In short, this was truly an experience of a lifetime. One that left all of the participants hungry for more and sad to land at the port of Ushuaia at the end of the voyage.

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Yet, the journey has not ended, in fact, it has just begun. Each and every one of the expedition participants has to make their mark to help raise awareness so that in the year 2041 the Antarctic treaty will be ratified to keep Antarctica as a land reserved for peace and science.

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The filmmakers in the group will make a film, the educators will educate, the scientists will continue their research and development of alternative energy so that we will never need to drill or mine in this pristine continent. As for me, I will tell my story so that next year there will be more than just one Kuwaiti on the 2041 expedition. So that Kuwaitis view Antarctica not as a touristic destination, but a place to learn and grow and challenge themselves both physically and mentally. Most importantly, my mission is to tell my children how sad the penguins are that they are losing their homes now that their icebergs are melting because we are using too much water every time we take a shower or brush our teeth. Every time I see my children turning off the tap or turning off the light, I know that we are that much closer to preserving Antarctica for our grandchildren.

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To learn more about the 2041 International Antarctic Expedition please visit www.2041.com and the Facebook page: Robert Swan and 2041.

2041

www.2041.com

Kayak Adventure in Oman

After my previous adventure trip with @Husaak and his team, I decided to experience another adventure with them. This time, I decided to go on a Kayak Adventure!!!!

Oman Kayaking Hello965

Now, this adventure kind of started early this time.. from the AIRPORT. Lately, I’ve been cautious with taking personal documents with me when flying – so I either take my passport or my ID, I never carry both. Finally, when I reached to immigration, only to realize I had no identification on me. No Civil ID and no passport. The rest was history.

On the bright side, I some how made it to my flight “5 minutes before departure.. literally!” I buckled up, and the flight took off!!!

Off to oMan

Thank you again and again to all who helped me make it to that flight.

Flight: Oman Air (Direct) – Two flights per day from Kuwait to Muscat

Another option: (1 stop): Flydubai

I will keep this post short and sweet, here we go…

Off to oMan

leaving to the pick-up point

 

The trip started from a pick-up by the organizing guide/team from a pre-set pick-up point and drive for an hour and 30 minutes or so to the destination where we picked-up our Kayaks.

Trip Guide: Wenayan Al Wenayan

Off to oMan

when it all started..

We took off and started Kayaking until we reached our camp base. I will let the photos tell you about the two nights we spent there..

This trip had tents for you to sleep in during the night (Unlike my last trip to the waterfall hike). A funny incident happened one of the two nights when the wind was too strong, and the tent fell on us! Haha, it was funny we ended up sleeping outdoors – the best decision. I recommend you to always choose to sleep outdoors if you get the option its just beautiful.

Off to oMan

This trip was especially great because of the company; so much laughter.

We kayaked our way back to put back the kayaks in the storages, and drive back to Muscat.

Finally, the Kayak trip ended with a light meal near Souq Mutrah in Muscat.

Off to oMan

….. my trip didn’t end. I booked a massage at the Chedi for some me time haha. Yes, now it ended:)

A special thank you for Ali Husain for starting all of this.

Photo credits: Wenayan W.

Photo credits: Wenayan W.

Cheers,

Hello965

The Secret Waterfalls in Oman

Hello hello hello adventurers! This post is especially for YOU.

Oman Hello965

PC: Hello965

One of the weekends I decided to join a hiking trip organized by a Kuwaiti adventurer called Ali, who’s been doing those hikes in Oman for a while.

Oman Hello965

Mr Ali Husain

Ali organizes multiple trips on a monthly basis. Usually, those trips have guides and co-guides to lead everyone during the whole trip. Ali is an Explorer & adventure traveler. Inspiring others to get out & see the wonders of Earth. What motivated me to join one of Ali’s trips is his passion; when you know passion is involved, you know it’ll be good.

How do I sign up for one of the trips?

You contact Ali to inquire about the trips he offers: (Jebel Shams, The cave, Waterfalls, Kayak Expedition, The Abandon Village (Family trip),  etc..). Usually, the broadcast he sends contains the trip details:

  • Starting and Ending Dates
  • Guide names
  • Difficulty Level
  • Price & deposit details
  • Meeting Point
  • Gear required
  • What is provided and what is not

Upon confirmation, you transfer the deposit amount. A whatsapp group will be created to discuss trip details and to get to know the group you’re going with. Later, there will be a meeting where you all meet to discuss the trip details. Our guide Ms Lulu Al Awadhi was extremely helpful guiding us to what we need to buy and prepare for. So when the meeting happens, try to attend.

Oman Hello965

PC: Arwa Abulhassan

You feel like going but no one wants to join you from your friends? GO ANWYAY! At first, I was worried because I registered solo – I had no friends going with me at that time. Then I realized, it’s one of the best decisions I took meeting all the great people and their amazing personalities.

Oman Hello965

PC: Abdulwahab Buhaimed

The trip I did was called: The Secret Waterfalls

Verdict of the whole experience? AMAZING

Will I do it again? Yes

A tip for the Secret Waterfalls? Take gloves, Knee support, and an energy drink.

Do I need to be fit to do it? Personally, I say Yes. Train, train, train.

A memorable moment? Jumping off of a 20 meters cliff

Oman Hello965

*** Through out the trip I had two concerns but I’ll share only one: Sleeping outdoors. Sleeping under the stars and waking up to the beach were the best two moments I’ve had in a long long time.

Ignore your fears, have fun!

Oman Hello965

PC: Bader AlAjeel

Closing Thought.. ” Forge your own route and stand in no one’s footsteps but your own.”

 Hello965

Ecuador

Hello hello travelers!

Let me start off by saying NO, I’ve never been to the Ecuador. However, one of my close friends was there just a few weeks ago and shared with me her itinerary and photos. IT LOOKS AMAZING.

Let me tell you one thing: This itinerary is for the adventurers mainly. If you’re not an adventure kind of person, this is not for you.

Now, enjoy!! 😀

Country Code: +593

Capital: Quito

Currency: USD

Official Language: Spanish

Emergency Services:911

Fire Department: 102

 

Day 1: Arrive to Quito and see the city

Quito, formally San Francisco de Quito, is the capital city of Ecuador. Checkout the old town (see the Plaza and Monastery of San Francisco, the Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande), La Compañía de Jesús and the Museo de Arte Colonial), see museums and galleries, or take the teleferiqo to see spectacular views over Quito’s mountainous landscape.

Quito is surrounded by a variety of places that could interest all kinds of tourists. A couple of hours on a bus ride is all it takes to reach them:

To the North, all tourists should visit the province of Imbabura, which has beautiful lakes such as Yaguarcocha and San Pablo. Hikers and mountain climbers can also ask for adventures in Cayambe National Park, home of the 3rd largest volcano in Ecuador.

To the North West of Quito lies the region of Mindo, a subtropical rainforest paradise, full of rivers, majestic waterfalls, unique wildlife and more. The region is home to a variety of animal wildlife sanctuaries, and is famous locally and internationally because of its beauty.

To the east, lies Papallacta which is a thermal water resort town if you’re into spas and relaxation.

Day 2: Tour to San Miguel de Ibarra

Ibarra is located at the base of the inactive Imbabura Volcano and is the capital of the Imbabura Province. The tour to Ibarra is through a volcano route where you can see the Chimborazo and the route of the volcanoes. In the top of the volcano, there is a lagoon. Return to Quito & Spend the night in Quito. (Two hours drive)

Day 3,4 and 5:  Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz Island

Fly to Santa Cruz Island, (Known to be the best of the islands in Galapagos). Galapagos Islands are volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. Santa Cruz, is the second largest island in the Galapagos. On your way from the airport,  visit lava tunnels and a sea turtle reserve, and stop at Charles Darwin Station to learn about the islands’ animals and Darwin’s observations, as well as the islands’ conservation efforts. Also, see Las Grietas.

Day 6: Fly from Galapagos (to José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport) spend the night night in Guayaquil

Guayaquil is the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador. Famous for Barrio Las Peñas which is shown in the picture above. Take the 465-step climb to the top of Santa Ana Hill and see the beautiful views and have the chance to stand on the site of the city’s birthplace.

Day 7: Trip to Cuenca

Cuenca is closer from Guayaquil (3:30 hours driving). In Cuenca, you can take a double decker bus, then you can go to a Mineral Natural Spa – one of the most beautiful things to do in Cuenca.

Day 8Cuenca and Ingapirca Ruins, Tour of the falls route in Baños

In the end of the afternoon travel to Baños (3 hours driving) – 01 night in Baños and do extreme sports the next day!

Day 9Travel to Puyo, 01 Night in Puyo, Amazon

Trip to Puyo – 01 night in Puyo – Amazon

Day 10  –  Tour to the Amazon and Indian group

Day 11Flight from Quito back home

 

Hope this helps? Cheers! xx

Hello965 team

Dubrovnik, Croatia ~ A la Hello965

‘This post is after my visit to Dubrovnik in 2012’

Dubrovnik Dubrovnik, Oh Dubrovnik.

No matter what I say about Croatia, I don’t think I’d give it justice. I’ll leave it to you, to see and judge.

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How to get there.

.. By Plane

> Dubrovnik Airport is located about 20 km to the south of the city. www.Airport-Dubrovnik.hr

> Hello965 Tip: we recommend to fly from a nearby country like Spain, England, France (as part of a multi-country trip). For example, go to Barcelona and from Barcelona to Dubrovnik/Split.

> Flight Options: Iberia, BA, Lufthansa, Vueling.

 

.. By Car

If you’re going to Dubrovnik from Split, the trip along the coastal road (Jadranska Magistrala or D8) is a beautiful scenic journey through small, quaint village and other tourist destinations. Split to Dubrovnik takes about 3,5 to 4 hours drive.

 

.. By Boat

Im not quite sure which cruises go to Dubrovnik but I’d say check Royal Caribbean. 

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Sleep. 

We highly recommend to stay as close to Old Town as possible, but dont stay inside Old Town, as the place can be noisy and crowded by tourists, Pile region is ideal place to stay in Dubrovnik, as it is right next to Old Town and within a walking distance to the city center.

Apartment and Villa renting is very popular inside Dubrovnik (Feel free to contact us to learn more on this). Hotels, specially high stars rated, can be pretty far from the city center and will require to take a shuttle/cab to get to where you want.

On another note, during one of our Dubrovnik trips, we stayed at a resort called Importanne Resort – Hotel Neptun Dubrovnik. We were a group of 8 people, took 2 rooms (super spacious, beautiful with an amazing big terrace) for 6 nights. Almost all our mornings were spent at the hotel’s, or at the hotel’s pool. There is no sandy beach, cause it’s on a cliff (The highest hotel in Dubrovnik, stunning panorama of the sea). The hotel is 3.8 km away from old town.

Another recommended hotel in Dubrovnik is The Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, you can find it on booking.com.

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Things to do.

  • Old town.
    • Roland’s Column
    • Bell Tower
    • Sponza Palace
    • Rector’s Palace
    • Placa Stradun (main street of the city)
    • Pile Gate
    • Big Onofrio´s Fountain
    • Old Port
    • Aquarium
  • City Walls – Walk on the walls around the old town, great views. It is highly recommended to visit the walls during the early morning hours or the late afternoon hours during mid-summer months as it can become hot
    • Minceta Fort – known to be one of the most beautiful cultural attractions in Dubrovnik
    • St. John’s Fort
    • Bokar Fort
  • Spend the day touring the city’s rich religious and cultural history. Visit the large Onofrio Fountain, the Franciscan Monastery, and the Rectors’ Palace
  • There are many tours you could take, depends on your interest
    • Game of Thrones fans, you could do a Game of Thrones walking tour. Not only this tour covers the locations of which the show shot its scenes, but also it covers the entire Old Town and City Wall, informing you about the history of Dubrovnik and the TV show itself
    • Biking Tour, if you like cycling, you will love biking in Dubrovnik. Tours take you to the country side of the city and nearby towns
    • Day trips to Bosnia, Montenegro, Split and others. Keep your passport handy when you’re crossing borders
  • Enjoy a cable car ride to Srd Hill for spectacular views of Dubrovnik Old Town and its entire Riviera
  • Arrange either by yourself, or with the hotel concierge for a Kayaking tour. You can kayak to one of the nearby islands and spend your day at one of the “secret beaches”
  • Safari (ATV, or Horseback riding) Be sure to bring with you a light rain coat and a decent pair of shoes!
  • Snorkeling
  • Kayaking
  • Banje Beach or other beaches within beach clubs

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Eat.

High-end

Proto (Fish & Seafood)
Nautika (Classic and modern cuisine)
Restaurant 360 (Mediterranean flavors but is also grounded in classic French gastronomy)Orsan

Vegeterian

Nishta

Traditional Croatian Food

Villa Ruža
Restaurant Dubrovnik
Gusta Me
Levanat (Seafood)
Kamenice
Poklisar

Sushi

BOTA ŠARE

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Other Information.

– VISA: For you to enter Croatia, you need either 1) a Croatian visa or 2) a Schengen – There has been some debate whether a Schengen gets you into Croatia or not. For us, our two visits to Croatia were one in August 2012 and second in late June 2014, both with Schengen visas. In order for you to do so, I believe you need to enter a Schengen visa country (Spain, Paris, etc..) and then fly to Croatia. 

Having said that, please contact or email a consulate or the embassy to make sure this is still the case. In Kuwait, there is neither a consulate nor an embassy. The nearest one is in Cairo, Egypt.

– Local Currency: The Kuna (HRK) is the official currency of Croatia. Banks are the only place you can change Kuna back into hard currency. You can get a cash advance on your credit card at banks throughout the country, though Visa® credit cards are not accepted by all banks

– Travel applications that won’t work in Dubrovnik: Yelp!

– The area code is 020.

– Yacht charter website: http://www.croatiacharter.com/

– Taxi and transportation services: http://www.taxiservicedubrovnik.com/

– Best time to visit: Naturally, you want to check Croatia’s weather and climate before you plan a trip. This is what CroatiaTraveller says:

January
Brrrr.  Continental Croatia is nippy indeed and the coast, while often sunny and pleasant, is not exactly swimmably warm.

February
It’s still cold in most of Croatia but the energy level is definitely picking up.

March 
It’s great outdoors weather along the Adriatic coast and, depending on the calendar, there are the festivities around Easter.

April
Spring is here at last. The snows have melted, flowers are budding and it’s time to celebrate.

May
The days are getting long and increasingly sunny. The tourist season is gearing up but is not yet in full swing which can be a good thing.

June
We’re in prime coastal and island-hopping season now and there are plenty of interesting cultural events.

July
The tourist season is in full swing now as coastal resorts fill up and excursion boats leave the docks groaning with passengers.

August
Don’t show up on a small island without a hotel reservation or you may find yourself on the next boat out.

September
The tide of tourists has largely receded leaving the resorts quieter, if not completely empty even though you can still swim.

October
The weather is turning cooler but it’s often still possible to swim in southern Dalmatia and tourists are few and far between.

November
Think concerts, culture, and cozy cafes.

December
The mood has swung away from tourism and toward Christmas preparations.

‘This post is after my visit to Dubrovnik in 2012’
The journey is not the destination..
Cheers,
Hello965 team
‘This post is after my visit to Dubrovnik in 2012’