Kakadu

Gunwarddehwardde lookout, to a view of Nourlangie Rock

Gunwarddehwardde lookout, to a view of Nourlangie Rock

Last month we were lucky enough to travel to the very special Kakadu, in the Northern Territory, Australia. We spent 5 days exploring the National Park and learning about the ancient indigenous culture of the land. I can honestly say that it was one of the best weeks of my life!

We stayed at the lovely Cooinda Lodge and explored the National Park each day. I loved everything from the rich red dirt roads, to the fresh crystal clear plunge pools & waterfalls, to the abundance of beautiful wildlife. On top of all of that, they have such a spiritual culture & connection to the land and we really felt this while we were there. The traditional owners of the land welcome us and are so proud to show us their home. 

Some of the places we explored were the Yellow Water Billabong, Maguk Gorge, Gunlom, Anbangbang Billabong, Nourlangie Rock Art Site and Gunwarddehwardde. There was still soo much more to see, I guess I will just have to go back!! Xxx

 

 

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Magical Maguk Gorge

Magical Maguk Gorge

Sunrise Cruise over the majestic Yellow Water Billabong

Sunrise Cruise over the majestic Yellow Water Billabong

Breakfast at Cooinda Lodge

Breakfast at Cooinda Lodge

Traditional basket weaving lessons with Patsie

Traditional basket weaving lessons with Patsie

Adventure Wifey @emelinaah 

Adventure Wifey @emelinaah 

Nourlangie Rock Art Site

Nourlangie Rock Art Site

Crystal clear infinity pool at Gunlom, looking over the vast National Park

Crystal clear infinity pool at Gunlom, looking over the vast National Park

#kakadope by the oh so talented Salty Wings

#kakadope by the oh so talented Salty Wings

We Journey - Guatemala

We recently discovered a new impact start-up called ‘We Journey’  (http://wejourney.co/) who specialise in taking eager travellers on experiential trips that give back to the local communities they visit. Their trips are not like standard tours where you jump on and off a bus, take some snaps and move to the next location. They are life changing trips that will never let you see the world the same way again!

A few weeks ago my Fiancé (@mr_jamie_green) and I went on a journey to Guatemala to help build houses for families living in slum conditions. To be honest, we didn't get a chance to read too much of the pre-adventure material, so we came with open eyes & no expectations. We touched down in Guatemala City late on a Thursday afternoon and jumped in a car to head out to our first stop to meet the rest of our Journey team. It was going to be a two-hour drive, so Jamie thought he would do a bit of work on the way. He pulled his laptop out while we were sitting in pretty heavy traffic. It was only moments before our driver said in broken English, ‘No! No! Bang! Bang!' We thought ‘What?’ We then realised he was indicating that criminals roam through the traffic looking for people on phones and laptops to hold them up at gunpoint. We quickly realised we were far from our safe little humble town of Byron Bay, Australia… let the adventure begin! 

We arrived in Antigua and met a team of 30 other Journeyers. The next day was a free day to explore the amazing colourful streets and capture what we wanted - it is an incredibly beautiful place! Day two was a 4:30am wake up call to head out to a place called Suacité, where we would start our first day of work building houses. All 30 of us jumped on a school bus and rode the bumpy, windy roads of Guatemala. On our way we were told we would be staying in a local school, sleeping in the same room on the floor. The school had no showers and the locals would be cooking for us. This was no luxury travel, but a raw experience any adventure seeking person would thrive on! 

We arrived at the school and were greeted by 100 volunteers from a youth-led non-for-profit called Techo (https://www.techo.org/) who have been building houses in the area for 15 years. We were split off into groups, picked up our tools and got back on the bus to head down to the family’s land we were about to build on. Techo goes through a unique selection criteria for the families they support. Part of the qualification criteria is that the family must pay for a portion of the cost of the house and also dig and level the foundation prior to the volunteers arriving to help. So a fair bit of work had been done before our arrival. The volunteers are all under 25 and mostly in year 12 or just out of high school. It was incredible leadership and passion shown by such young people. 

We met our beautiful family and got straight to work digging the holes for the foundation of the house. Our first challenge working in the slums is that we have no power, so everything is manual labor. Second to that, almost no one spoke fluent English and our Spanish is next to nothing. For the next few hours, we bonded and communicated via music, dance and a fair bit of sign language. There was something special and humbling about not being able to understand everything that was spoken. I actually learnt you can understand a lot of what someone is saying by their body language, facial expressions & tone of voice! The ground was so hard and rocky, and it took over 2 hours to dig just one hole - we had to dig 12 in total! If we didn't have the help of the house owner who worked in construction we may have never achieved it. He was so strong and I have never seen someone work so hard. It was easily one of the hardest days work I had ever done. (I'm usually sitting comfortably behind my computer haha).

Day three was more rewarding as we started to put the walls up and it was evident we had achieved something. I had a conflicting moment that day as the final wall went up and I realised that the space was only just slightly bigger than my bedroom at home. This family had nine children! How would they all fit? I had an overwhelming sense of guilt that we could not give them more, but as the day went on all the children from the family got really involved with the final part of the building. You could see their excitement and how happy they were to have a new clean place to call home. They had such a great family values, the adorable children never complained and they worked hard together. Witnessing this strong sense of family and living so much in the moment, I stopped and I thought perhaps they had something we didn't have back home, a deeper connection we all desire.  

We nailed the final roof panel on the house, celebrated with the family, said our goodbyes and wished the family luck! Meeting back up with our Journey group we reflected and shared our highs and lows of the experience. The team was made up of young and old but we all now shared this particular bond that is hard to put into words… We drove four hours out of the slums and arrived at a place called Lake Atitlan which had all the western comforts of running water, beds and food cooked in a kitchen. This time was crafted for us to ground ourselves and connect on a deeper level for the next two days, and it was exactly what we needed after such a huge challenge. 

This trip was truly a life changing experience and an amazing way to travel, see a country, immerse yourself in local culture, meet new like-minded people and give back at the same time. Journey have another trip to Guatemala in May - take a look here http://wejourney.co/72117-gua-summer and if you book use this $250 Discount Code: GUATEMALA. If you have any questions just DM me and I will be happy to help! #TRAVELWITHPURPOSE 

3 Places You Must Stay In Marrakech, Morocco

Riad Jardin Secret

In the heart of Marrakech, lies the most unique and laid-back Riad that Pinterest dreams are made of. A beautiful french couple Cyrielle and Julien, have created an incredible space where they want you to feel completely relaxed and at home. From the amazing pink roof top, to the many cactus gardens, to the incredible organic restaurant and the most intricate Moroccan architecture - safe to say it was very hard to leave this place! Cyrielle & Julien brought their cool parisian style and have thoughtfully decked out every inch of this amazing space, we will definitely be going back here! 

http://riadjardinsecret.com

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Riad Yasmine

Yes, this is the one with the famous pool you have most likely seen on Pinterest or Instagram! This Riad is truly beautiful, not just the pool - the rooms are also incredible. This was the first place we stayed on our trip to Morocco and the owners were so welcoming & made us feel right at home. It is close enough to walk to the Souks, where you can shop for all the Moroccan goodies of your dreams!

http://riad-yasmine.com/

Le Riad BerberE

Peach everything, Raid Berbere takes the cake for the best rooftop and funniest host! Your wine glass will never be empty and you'll never want to leave. But when you do leave, it is a super easy walk to the Souks & where you'll find the amazing cafe Nomad which overlooks the marketplace. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

http://www.leriadberbere.com/

GOING GREEN ON YOUR HOLIDAY

For my partner's 30th, I booked us a stay at the magical eco boutique hotel Bambu Indah, which is set in the hills of Ubud, Bali. Bambu Indah is about as green as you can get, our whole villa was built out of bamboo and recycled timber, they grow their own produce for the restaurant, collect their own water and organise daily Trash Walks to help promote and clean up the local village. 

We had a magical 4 days here of relaxation, see below how beautiful it is! Xx

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