Where to even start with 2012? New Years in Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, wine tasting in New Zealand, mountain trekking in Nepal, the craziness of India, roadtripping Oman, Petra, snorkeling the Red Sea, exploring religion in Israel, the Pyramids. Being the second year on the road it didn’t let us down. Here are our highlights from traveling all of 2012.
The sights, sounds and smells of 2012 are unlikely to fade in my memory anytime soon. Coming into the year I wondered how it could compare to 2011′s adventures through Asia, but it was so different there is no way to compare them. This year though I came to love an activity I never thought I would: hiking.
I love waking up to scenes like this on Routeburn Track, the world’s best short hike.
Starting with the spectacular short (3 day) hikes of New Zealand to the epic 20-day hikes of Nepal I learned I love to hike. If you had told me that I would complete a 20-day hike last year I would have laughed and suggested you replace “hike” with “sleep” and I’d be more likely to believe you. I wouldn’t have even entertained the idea that I would do not one, but two 20-day hikes, just a week apart. Then I got to New Zealand.
New Zealand’s “Great Walks” of Milford and Routeburn opened my eyes to the things nature has hidden away from civilization (witness them for yourself by clicking on the names). Then Nepal took me to another world. The Three Passes Trek, with three passes above 16,000 feet, is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world and includes a visit to Everest Base Camp. The Annapurna Circuit took me to faraway lands where villagers live as they have for centuries. These hikes plus a few more this year were probably more than I’ve hiked in the rest of my life combined.
I find myself looking forward to our next hikes: Torres del Paine in Chile and Fitzroy in Argentina. Even worse is that I’ve started to look at future trips in terms of hikes! I can’t wait for my chance to complete the Tour du Mont Blanc, the GR-20 in Corsica and explore the amazing National Parks of the USA.
Having a year of travel under our belts changed our outlook for this year. Our first year was all about the freedom of traveling as we pleased, seeing the world on our own schedule. This year was all about people, re-uniting with travelers from 2011 and meeting life long friends along the way. The year started with seeing familiar faces of family and friends Down Under and as we moved along we added to our facebook friends. This year my highlight was definitely the people we shared our memories with.
Meeting family and friends in Australi and New Zealand was a great way to start the year, I loved traveling with my family and our newly-wed friends from home. The couchsurfers that took care of us in both Australia and New Zealand became fast friends. However, meeting up with friends we met on the road last year really brought our travel experiences full circle. Not only did we get to remember great moments from last year, but we made new memories and even plans to meet up again.
The hikers we met in Nepal are more than facebook friends.
The incredible people that we shared 2012 with will no doubt remain friends for life. The experiences we shared are life changing and created bonds that won’t soon fade. Happiness is better when shared and all the amazing people we met this year have proven that to be true. I can only hope that the incredible hikes and wonderful friends we shared them with are pre-cursers of what to expect in 2013.
What made 2012 a year to remember for you? Share your reflections on the past year in the comments.