Travelationship's Favorite Adventures of 2016

Travelationship’s Favorite Adventures of 2016

By: Heather

We didn’t quite have it in us to put together a comprehensive, full year review. So, we did the next best thing. We created our Top 10 Adventures List for 2016 over on our Instagram page.

In case you missed it or wanted a bit more information on each adventure, here are our Favorite Adventures from 2016.

10 | The Trains in Sri Lanka

We are fans of most train travel, and the trains in Sri Lanka proved to be some of our favorites. Not all the trains or routes are desirable in Sri Lanka, but the ones traversing the Central and Northern regions are particularly remarkable. The trains are old and rickety (but comfortable) with open doors and windows, which is absolutely the best part. Hanging your head or body out the doors and windows is exhilarating, liberating, beautiful and all part of the fun. Don’t worry it isn’t a requirement to dangle in the breeze and the views can be seen from the comfort of your train seat.


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 9 | Hiking Bac Ha with Za We originally visited Bac Ha for the famous colorful Sunday market. Most people go only for the market, and it is such a shame because the area is gorgeous. We spent half a day hiking the hills and rice fields with a local woman named Za. She and her family were the type of people whose presence instantly lifts your mood. During our 18kms we fell in love with Bac Ha because Za brought the area, the culture, the people and the respect for this location all to life. She told us stories of the history, people, land, struggles, triumphs and the hopes and dreams for it all as their world changes. It was one of those experiences we can’t quite put into words other than saying it absolutely embraced our souls and left us feeling so grateful and happy to have shared the moments with Za in her home and village. Have you had an experience that left you with so much love and happiness?

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

9 | Hiking Bac Ha with Za

You know that feeling when you just click with someone so perfectly you feel as if you’d know him/her forever? Well, that is Za! Everything about our experience hiking with Za in Bac Ha, Vietnam made and left us feeling like we belonged – like family. Za grew up in Bac Ha, and she comes from a long line of rice farmers. To supplement her income and provide for her family she started taking visitors on walks throughout the hills of Bac Ha.

During our hike she gave us information regarding the history of the area and the tribes, taught us about rice farming, introduced us to her family, fed us in her home, presented us with stunning views of the villages from atop the Bac Ha hills and cultivated the love we developed for the country of Vietnam. The time we spent with Za ranks in the top 10 of all our travel experiences EVER. Our day with her was that special.

If you want to learn more about Za and how to hike with her check out her website.

8 | Road Tripping New Zealand

New Zealand ended up being better than we imagined. We knew it would be beautiful and green, but it was even more than that. Since we only had two weeks and decided to stay on the North Island. While we saw a lot, we feel like we missed a lot, too. For such a small location the opportunities for outdoor adventures is endless. Our favorite places were Cape Palliser and Coromandel Peninsula.

Next time we will be heading straight for the South Island!


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 7 | Temples of Angkor & Koh Ker Angkor & Koh Ker were ancient cities located about 120 kms apart in Cambodia. Both cities were decorated with incredibly designed temples. Some temples in both areas have survived the many years of fighting, looting, decay & forest growth. The history & beauty of Angkor & Koh Ker leaves a person in great awe of the times of yesteryear. If you are in Siem Reap take the time to venture to Koh Ker and especially visit Prasat Pram (📷) -my favorite because of the forest location & overgrown trees. The Koh Ker temples aren’t nearly as busy as Angkor. We were the only visitors at a few of the locations. In a few ways we preferred Koh Ker over Angkor because of the thick forest, the quietness which made it easier to try to imagine the history of each temple.

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

7 | Temples of Angkor & Koh Ker

We went to see the temples of Angkor and left believing the temples in Koh Ker should also be on everyone’s “must see” list. We will stress to anyone who hasn’t been to invest in a registered guide for at least one of your temple tour days. The history and little details the guide provides is worth every cent and more. We spent three days visiting Angkor and one day visiting Koh Ker. We felt our time was well used and didn’t feel like we missed out on too much. Had we gone for only a day we would have missed so much. We highly recommend spending more than one day taking in the history and sites of the temples.


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 6 | Creating Travelationships with our Friends & Family We’ve been really lucky to have some of our friends and family meet us in different countries. We got to explore Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Cape Town, Spain, Australia and New Zealand with cool people. The craziest was meeting my cousin for the very first time in Cambodia. He grew up in Philippines, and I in US. The timing of us being in the same city at the same time was completely coincidental. Of course, not all the meetups we had planned worked out, but we are so grateful for the ones that did. The photo is us with Matt’s parents at Hobbiton, one of the coolest places in New Zealand. Do you have memorable travelationship when traveling?

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

6 | Creating & Sustaining Travelationships with our Friends and Family

One of our absolutely favorite things while traveling is meeting people! We have met quite a few of our life long friends while we visited countries around the world. To have the pleasure to be able to plan meetups around the world with our family members and friends we have met throughout our lives is special. This year we were able to meet up with quite a few peeps, and we were grateful for each and every one of them. Sadly, plans don’t always pan out, and a few of our travelationships were put aside due to illness, timing or money, but that doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying.


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 5 | House, Farm, Guest House Sitting in Central France Through we contracted 3 different house sits during 2016. 2 in France and 1 in Australia. We had fun at all 3 but our month long sit in Central France was our fav. We took care of 100+ sheep, 1 dog, 1 cat, 2 horses, 1 house, 1 apartment, and an 8 room guest house all during lambing season. We both grew up on small farms & had experience with different farm animals (but not sheep). The experience with all the animals brought us both back to our childhood. We learned a ton, help birth about 10 lambs (named them all after popular song titles), felt the horrible heartache of losing 2 babies (1 to breech & 1 to unknown causes), tried to convince 1 sheep he wasn’t a dog, fixed some fences, washed & changed a lot of linens (& learned we never want a guest house), met some fantastic people, ate gobs of French cheese & bread, and drank a lot of French wine. During the owners return they even let us use their car to road trip to Normandy. We have had great experiences during our house sits throughout the last few years. Each one gives us a break from traveling & allows us to have some “home” time. To stay at the farm checkout Have you done a house sit?

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

5 | House, Farm, Guest House Sitting in Central France

Yes, that’s right we housesit while we travel, and we love it! We use to find our sits and have not been disappointed. In 2016 we sat for two different farms (1 in Central France and 1 in Southern France) and one cat breeder in Cairns, Australia. We had a blast at all 3, but our Central France opportunity stole our hearts. Our hosts, all their animals, and their property location was perfect for us. Plus we were there during lambing season and got to play with lots of sheep and lambs, a silly dog and cat, and two horses.

Housesitting is a fantastic way to save on expenses while traveling. There are lots of different sitting sites online, we happen to use and would definitely recommend them.


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 4 | Road Tripping Namibia Luckily, we had a way better truck than the one in the photo. Between the animals in Etosha National Park, the vast space & emptiness of the Skeleton Coast, the incredible changing dunes of Sossusvlei, the Kolmanskop Ghost Town, the abandoned random cars throughout the country or all the places in between driving Namibia is such a fantastic almost whimsical adventure. The driving takes longer than you plan, the weather noticeably changes depending on what location, at times you feel like you are in Germany because of all the schnitzel, and the landscapes go from not much to jaw dropping in a split second. We fell in love with Namibia and would absolutely recommend visiting to anyone who likes the outdoors.

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

4 | Road Tripping Namibia

We had about two weeks to drive as much of Namibia as we were able. First, I will say we wish we had more time in Namibia! It is unbelievable. The only way to see it is by renting a truck and road tripping. Technically, it isn’t the only way to see it, but it’s the only way we would recommend seeing it. There are several different ways to road trip Namibia and whatever way you choose, know the drive times take longer than you think. As long as you expect the long drive times you can plan stops accordingly and keep the journey fun.

The diversity in Namibia is immense – think wild animals in national parks, temperamental coastlines, shipwrecks, abandoned buildings, ghost towns, delicious schnitzel (yes, as in real German schnitzel. Namibia was colonized by Germany), sandy deserts, massive rock canyons, ancient stone carvings, hiking and laid back towns throughout.

If you love the outdoors, Namibia should be high on your Must Vist list!


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 3 | Chobe River & Okavango Delta, Botswana Have you ever seen an elephant play in a river like an otter rolling around in the sea? Well, head to Botswana! In Botswana most of the animal sighting are centered around water. We have been on several safaris in several different countries but none were like Botswana. Watching elephants play in a river was a major highlight. And watching from the boat all the different animals on the shorelines or in the river was unique for us. Usually, we’ve been on land watching the animals. We spent most of our time at the Chobe River (a sunset boat river tour is a must) & the Okavango Delta. Between the 2 locations we saw well over a hundred elephants of all sizes, hippos, crocs, lions, buffalo, giraffe, gazelles, birds of all kinds, huge lizards, zebras…& the most intense sunsets. Public transport in Botswana is easy, but if you have the means road trip it in a camper van! We took buses but wish we had had the freedom of the camper van.

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

3 | Chobe River & Okavango Delta, Botswana

I have a confession to make…I went into Botswana not expecting much. In the past, we had been on several safaris, and I assumed the safaris in Botswana would be similar. I was so wrong! Botswana safaris center around water – the Chobe River and the Okavango Delta, and where there is water there are lots of animals. The Chobe River boat safaris are amazeballs! The sunset tours were particularly awesome. Watching elephants roll in the river is pure joy on your eyes. We didn’t see as many animals on the ground while we were in the Okavango Delta, but when we took a Mack Air  GA8 Airvan flight over the delta it was straight out of a movie. In hindsight, I would recommend the door/windowless helicopter tour over the airplane tour due to hazy windows on the plane vs. no window on the helicopters – Better photos.


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 2 | Orangutans in Borneo We spent 3 days boating & trekking through the Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo, Indonesia. We were blessed to see a few critically endangered Orangutans in their natural habitat. Although, the feeding viewings were controlled & provided by park rangers the experience was both amazing, surreal & heartbreaking. Orangutans are losing their forest homes to the palm oil industry and fires. The damages to the habitats and to the Orangutans was quite visible. These critically endangered animals may not be around for future generations if we don’t act now. Please Google how you can cut down your use of Palm Oil to help save the Orangutan’s natural habitat. Every effort helps!

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

2 | Orangutans in Borneo

Orangutans are a critically endangered species and to have seen a few in their natural environment was extraordinary. We took a 2-night riverboat tour in the Tanjung Puting National Park with Orangutan Applause to view these magnificent creatures in their habitat. Before we saw our first orangutan, we visibly noticed the cut-down & burned forests. We learned from our guide the biggest threat to the survival of these animals is the Palm Oil Industry cutting down the forests where they live. The majority of the world’s population uses at least 1 (but usually many) product containing palm oil daily. If we would all be more conscious of the products we purchase and find alternatives to palm oil use, the orangutans would have an increased rate of survival.

To get you started on learning more about decreasing your use of Palm Oil products, check out the articles below:


Our Favorite Adventures Series- Join us as we wrap up 2016 by sharing some of our most treasured experiences of the past year. 1 | Goroka Show in Papua New Guinea The Goroka Show is a 3 day cultural show with 100+ tribes from all over PNG. Participants are decked out in their full tribal dress including headgear while they sing, dance & educate visitors about their villages. Some of these tribes have long histories of conflict, yet they come together for the show to represent their village & entire country peacefully. The Goroka Show coincides with PNG’s Independence Day, so the entire weekend is full of festivities, food & fireworks. The Goroka Show is the best cultural event we have ever attended. The reality that a person can go to one place to meet & learn so much about many different tribe members and their customs is fascinating. We made lots of time to interact with different villagers who shared their stories & introduced us to their friends/family to hear more stories. PNG hosts several cultural shows throughout the country with the Goroka Show at the top of the biggest and best list. The event is overwhelming & truly ahhhmazing! Our recommendation is plan early, go soon before it gets to be too popular & don’t just take photos, interact with the participants! ******************************************************Checkout our blog for more info re: The Goroka Show. Link in bio: on site search Papua New Guinea *******************************************************

A photo posted by Travel Photos 📷 Matt & Heather (@travelationship) on

1 | Goroka Show in Papua New Guinea

To put the Goroka Show experience into words is difficult because it truly is in a class of its own when it comes to cultural shows. Papua New Guinea is well known for their cultural shows, with the Goroka Show being arguably the best. For three days over 100 tribes come from all over Papua New Guinea to display and educate the public and other tribes about their tribes and villages. The show is designed for both locals and foreigners in mind, and the spectacle of costumes, dancing, and singing is wonderfully overwhelming and awe-inspiring.

Even months later we are in wonder over the people we met, what we learned, saw and heard over those three days in Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

Click our link for more information on how to travel to Papua New Guinea to see the Goroka Show.

Now it’s your turn. Did any of your favorite adventures make our list?
Tell us about your favorite adventure from 2016!

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