2016 in Review: Travel Roundup
I still can’t believe 2016 is over! It went by in the blink of an eye, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun! With the new year commencing, I wanted to look back in gratitude over the amazing opportunities I had to immerse myself in life changing experience across the world in 2016. (Related: 2017 in review)
In January we rung in the new year on the island of Roatan in Honduras. At just a 65km jaunt from mainland, Roatan boats lush mangroves, dramatic coastlines and gorgeous white-sand beaches.
Its pristine, turquoise waters are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. In fact, the coral reefs there form part of the Meso-American barrier reef, the second largest coral reef system in the world! We took advantage of the beautiful underwater landscapes and did some serious scuba diving!
In February we visited friends and family out west in my old stomping grounds: Alberta, Canada. Not only was it great to visit with those we don’t see often, but I had the pleasure of reconnecting with the mountains I love so much. We were able to do a group hike up above barrier lake and I did a solo hike up prairie mountain.
In March, I headed to Montreal for a conference but took the opportunity to stay for the weekend. I met up with an old friend who I met in 2015 when I couch surfed at her place in Van City, and was able to crash with her again. It’s crazy how travel can bring together like-minded people who you otherwise wouldn’t meet.
With her experience living in Montreal for a year at that point, I was able to explore the town as a local would, checking out the lesser known spots. For example, she took me to a vegan restaurants for a plant-based twist to the classic Montreal poutine, and I checked out another veg friendly spot on my own. We hit up a pub for live music featuring a French-Caribbean band, checked out an art exhibition at the museum, visited Concordia university for a cup of coffee and walked along the marina.
In April, I celebrated being done the first year of my PhD program with a roadtrip to Nashville, TN. The end of April is the perfect time to visit because the high tourist season hasn’t quite started yet, but the weather is still warm and sunny. We stayed right downtown in the tourist zone which was perfectly fine for my first visit to the Music City. Along with taking a ride on the beer bicycle and checking out some of the best known places, like Tootsie’s bar, we also enjoyed walking along the river and exploring local neighbourhoods.
In May, I went on one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties in Niagara Falls. We also went on a winery tour in Ontario’s beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake area, only a short 20 minute drive. Though Niagara-on-the-Lake has a large variety of wineries in the region, ranging from small and family-owned to large and world renowned, we only visited 5.
Back in Niagara, we stayed in a penthouse suite overlooking the iconic falls.
In June, I went up to Algonquin Park to do some hiking and R&R at a cottage in Muskoka.
I also visited Toronto for a few days before departing for Africa, hitting the CN Tower and Steam whistle brewing company!
In July I left for my 3 month adventure in Tanzania, stopping over in Casablanca first. I was able to visit the staggering Mohammed Mosque and sample authentic Moroccan cuisine before jetsetting further East to Tanzania.
I spent my first month in Tanzania getting accustomed to the local culture and language, while also volunteering at a non-profit organization for women’s economic empowerment. My home base in Mwanza, was situated right on the shores of Lake Victoria which made for stunning sunsets and beautiful landscape views.
In August, I had the chance to explore the infamous Serengeti National Park. It was a trip of wonder and amazement while viewing the wildlife in their natural habitat.
In September, I went to the island of Ekewere in Tanzania with a group of expat friends. The trip proved to be crazy affordable and fun! We biked through the villages to a sunset look out, hung out at the beach and learned more about the history of the area.
I also travelled to Tanzania’s western city of Kigoma to see Jane Goodall’s famous chimpanzees in Gombe national park. Trekking through the forest, chasing waterfalls and coming face-to-face with the chimps has been one of the most unforgettable experiences I have ever had.
October brought me to South Africa, where I wandered through Johannesburg and visited a cheetah conservation area.
I took a road trip through the Drakensburg Mountain range and stayed at a fabulous wilderness mountain lodge in Limpopo, where giraffes and zebras roam the property freely.
November was a quiet month, spent with family and friends. I spent some time reconnecting with some of my favourite spots close to home in Ontario, like the beach in Port Stanley, the waterfalls in Hamilton, and the woods in London Ontario.
We did make it to the cottage up in Muskoka, where we were met with the first snowfall of the winter season.
December was a busy month for me with school commitments and holiday gatherings, but we still found time to carve out for a friend’s 30th birthday celebration in Collingwood. Though the ski hills weren’t open yet, we visited the ‘village’ and walked along the town’s marina.
It has been fun laying out all of the adventures I’ve had across the months of 2016. Memories can sometimes blend together or fade, so when you write it all out it becomes apparent just how rich and full the year has been.
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