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Marek Michalski

10 Movies and TV Shows to Watch Before you Go to Iceland

Iceland has a surprisingly strong connection to major films and tv shows for an island country with one of the smallest populations. Smash hit TV shows such as Game of Thrones and major superhero movies like Thor: The Dark World and Batman Begins were all shot in Iceland. There is also a collection of critically acclaimed Icelandic movies. We created a list of the films and shows to watch before you go to Iceland to get a taste of the scenery, and have that magic moment where you step into your favorite movie moments in real life.

Game of Thrones

Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Dimmuborgir, Vik, Thingvellir National ParkVatnajökullSkaftafellGrjótagjá, Laxa I kjos
IMDB Rating: 9.5

Game of Thrones has dozens of filming locations in Iceland. On our Life Nomading trip to Iceland, we are staying on the Laxa I Kjos where Drogon burns the sheepherder and his sheep. If you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, we recommend you do! It’s kind of hard to jump into it as the plot is intricate and intertwined. However, if you are familiar and want to catch some Iceland scenery, almost any episode beyond the wall or at the wall is shot in Iceland.

Noi, The Albino

Country of Origin: Iceland
Filming Location(s): Bolungarvik
IMDB Rating: 7.4

Noi The Albino is the most critically acclaimed Icelandic film with over 20 awards. The movie follows Noi who is either a genius or the village idiot. His big dreams of escaping the remote fishing village for which he grew up in rubs some townspeople the wrong way. Including the father of the girl he romances, who is less than enthused by the whole ordeal. He willfully fails in school and attends classes not in person, but through a tape recorder placed at his desk. Tomas Lemarquis, who plays Noi, went on to act major Hollywood films such as X-Men: Apocalypse, Snowpiercer, and Bladerunner: 2049. This quirky film is one of the best Icelandic movies of all time and is a must see whether you are going to Iceland or not.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Grundarfjörður; Stykkishólmur; Vatnajökull
IMDB Rating: 7.3

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an adventure inspiring film any way you slice it. It is not only an ideal movie to watch before going to Iceland, but also a good movie to watch before any vacation. It follows Walter Mitty on an epic adventure that changes his life and results in major updates to his online dating profile. Several scenes are shot in Iceland with full utilization of the surreal Icelandic landscape. It didn’t get the best reviews from critics, but audiences gave it a thumbs up. It’s an epic adventure for the soul and the eyes.

Batman Begins

Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Skaftafell; Vatnajökull; Öræfasvei.
IMDB Rating: 8.3

Most of the scenes set in Tibet were shot in Iceland. While this is often considered the worst movie in the Batman Dark Knight trilogy, it is still a great movie and the beginning of the best Batman trilogy. Most of the Iceland footage is in the part of the film where Batman trains with the League of Shadows in Tibet.

James Bond: Die Another Day

Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Jökulsárlón
IMDB Rating: 6.1

Die another day is one of several James Bond movies shot in Iceland. This is probably one of the most famous scenes, where 007  makes an epic escape in a pimped out Aston Martin. Not much of the movie is shot in Iceland, but what it has a ton of action and an excellent utilization of the landscape.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Vatnajokull
IMDB Rating: 8.8
 The force must be active in Iceland. Many star wars movies shot in Iceland – including the two newest films to the franchise: Force awakens and The Last Jedi. In The Empire Strikes Back, all the scenes set on the ice planet, Hoth, are filmed in Iceland.

Land Ho!

Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): All Over Iceland
IMDB Rating: 6.0
Land Ho! is almost exclusively filmed in Iceland. A film professor recommended this movie for the list, and it is an excellent movie. It has tons of Iceland footage and explores all around the country. It tells the tale of an Englishman who gets coxed into an Icelandic road trip vacation with his ex-brother in law who is a wealthy southern businessman from the USA.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Country of Origin: Iceland/United States
Filming Location(s): Jökulsárlón, Breiðamerkursandur
IMDB Rating: 5.8
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is one of many major Hollywood movies shot in Iceland. There are several Iceland filming locations including the excellent destination of Jokulsarlon lagoon. While watching the movie note the pars set in Siberia, all those scenes filmed in Iceland.

Everest

Country of Origin: Iceland/United States
Filming Location(s): Iceland – Unkown
IMDB Rating: 7.1
The movie Everest which is based on a true-life story was filmed in Iceland. While this may not be a full-blown Icelandic film, it is directed and produced by the Icelandic director, Baltasar Komakur. It follows two mountaineers that make a successful ascent of Mount Everest only to encounter a deadly storm. It stars Jake Gylennhaal and Josh Brolin. It is difficult to determine which scenes were shot in Iceland, but it was reported they shot there for over a month.

Thor: Dark World

Country of Origin: Iceland/United States
Filming Location(s): 
Thingvellir national park,  Landmannalaugar, and Vatnajokull
IMDB Rating: 7.0
Norse gods and Thor, the god of lightning, descend from Nordic traditions. It only makes sense for a Thor movie to film in Iceland. Several scenes are shot in Iceland and it is said that the background for the city of Odin, Thor’s home, is taken from Icelandic landscape.

If you want to checkout Iceland for vacation don’t miss out on these awesome opportunities to step into the screen and see where your favorite film moments took place.

The Complete Iceland Packing List

Iceland Packing List | Ultimate Iceland Packing List | Total Packing List For Iceland | Weather In Iceland | Backpacking Iceland | Packing for Iceland |

Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, and to figuring out the best time to go and what to pack for Iceland can be difficult. One thing you can be sure of for most trips to Iceland is that it’s going to be chilly and wet. During our last trip to Iceland, it lightly rained the whole time. Our list below covers all the basics from required items like a waterproof jacket to the nice to have things like rain pants.

If you are looking for a specific summer Iceland packing list or winter Iceland packing list, look no further. This list is designed to be comprehensive, and we even detailed the weather patterns based on temperature and hours of sunlight so you can make the most informed packing decisions.

Complete Packing List For Iceland

Item NameItem DescriptionLevel of Importance (Required, Recommended, Nice to Have)Buy Now on Amazon
Waterproof BootsGoreTex boots or another type of waterproof boot.RequiredBuy Now on Amazon
Waterproof CoatA heavy rain jacket or a waterproof winter coat.RequiredBuy Now on Amazon
Universal Outlet Adapter /European Outlet AdapterIceland uses Europlug/Schuko-Plug, which is the kind with the two circular prongs. RequiredBuy Now on Amazon
Swimming SuitMaybe this isn't "Required" but you can't miss the hot springs.RequiredBuy Now on Amazon
Water Resistant BackpackHigh quality water resistant bag. Transportation is expensive in Iceland, minimize the back and forth and bring stuff with you.RequiredBuy Now on Amazon
Thermal ClothingBust out the long johns from grandma! It’s all about the layers!RequiredBuy Now on Amazon
Water Bottle / CanteenIceland is a capital for adventure travel. A good water bottle is key for hydration and saving the environment.RecommendedBuy Now on Amazon
Light gloves / Waterproof GlovesAgain, if waterproof is an option go for it. Some light gloves are a good idea.RecommendedBuy Now on Amazon
External Battery ChargerAn external charger is key to keep your navigation and comms up and running.RecommendedBuy Now on Amazon
Travel Size ToiletriesObvious, but needed!RequiredBuy Now on Amazon
Winter HatA light winter hat.RecommendedBuy Now on Amazon
Winter SocksIf you won't be outside a lot you might be fine with some regular socks. Will definitely be required if you go ice caving or trekking through snow.RecommendedBuy Now on Amazon
Trash BagsA trash bag for wet and dirty clothes.RecommendedBuy Now on Amazon
Rain Pants / Waterproof Hiking PantsRain pants or waterproof hiking pants are definitely a worthy buy. Strongly recommended if you will be outside often.RecommendedBuy Now on Amazon
ScarfStyle and utility. A scarf is not a bad idea. Nice to HaveBuy Now on Amazon
Melatonin PillsA natural sleep aid to survive a redeye or adjust to the time change.Nice to HaveBuy Now on Amazon
SunscreenIf you have fair skin, you can get sunburned anywhere even in overcast.Nice to HaveBuy Now on Amazon

Weather In Iceland

Let’s briefly review the weather. The average is around freezing (32 Fahrenheit, 0 Celcius), with the highs in summer approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit(27 Celcius) and lows in winter at 28 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celcius). What you need to be more worried about is the number of hours of daylight. We created an infographic that has a good summary of the weather below.

Weather In Iceland | Life Nomading | Best time to travel to Iceland | Summer weather in Iceland | Winter Weather in Iceland | What to pack for Iceland | Iceland Packing ListWinter

Winters are surprisingly mellow with the normal January temperature in Reykjavik (- 0.5°C/31°F) like New York City or Hamburg. It isn’t surprising to see snow in October or April, yet it rarely remains on the ground for more than a couple of days.

Summer

The average July temperature in the southern part of the island is 50–56 °F. Some summer days can go up to 68–77 °F. Summers in Iceland can be delightfully warm in addition to the unique Midnight Sun which gives 24 hours of light and the fervor of midnight golf, or early morning club escapades.

Quick Tips

Pack light! Having a checked bag lost can ruin a trip to Iceland as most trips are short and buying stuff on an island is expensive! Try to fit all your stuff in a carry on if possible – it will make your life easier and prevent any lost luggage events eating into your vacation time! If you are having packing space issues here are five tips to help!

Think water resistant! If there were a theme that could be applied to anything you pack this would be it! From boots to jackets – water resistance is key for a pleasant, warm, and comfortable trip to Iceland!

Required Items

Let’s take a deeper look into why we deemed some these key items as required. Technically all of these items may not be “required,” but they are if the plan is to see the best of what Iceland has to offer: Hot springs, amazing outdoor landscapes, and ice caves.

Waterproof Boots

Waterproof Boots | Gore-Tex Boots | Boots for Iceland | Waterproof Hiking BootsHiking the amazing landscapes and ice caves in Iceland are must-do activities. Pick up some waterproof hiking boots to do it all with dry feet. Almost any brand of boot made of Gore-Tex works well, as it is more breathable than a rubber boot but also waterproof.

Waterproof Coat

Rain Jacket | Marmot Jacket | Jacket for Iceland | Iceland Packing ListWe recommend layering up with a thick rain jacket or getting a waterproof winter coat. While it can be snowy, having enough layer can prevent needing a full-blown arctic hiking coat – unless you plan to hike in Vatnajokull. We previously detailed the best rain jackets for men, if you are a guy looking to grab one for an Icelandic trip. All in all, after talking with our fellow avid outdoorswoman and outdoorsmen we found that Marmot coats we’re consistently mentioned as a highwater proof coat.

Universal Outlet Adapter

Iceland Outlet | Outlet In Iceland | Packing list for Iceland

Iceland uses to Europlug, so any adapter that has a European outlet adapter should work. A universal adapter can be picked up online for less than twenty dollars. The outlet in Iceland is two round plugs and typically slightly indented into the wall.

Swimming Suit

Blue Lagoon | Packing Lit for Iceland | Packing list | Swimsuit for IcelandIceland is famous for hot springs, which means you need to bring a bathing suit. There are tons of hot springs. If you want the most comprehensive list of hot springs, hot pot Iceland has the only exhaustive list of locations with GPS coordinates. Aside from natural hot springs, the public baths is a more local off the beaten path option. The public baths are also much cheaper than the blue lagoon.

Water Resistant Backpack

Waterproof Backpack | Iceland | Packing List for IcelandGrabbing a water-resistant backpack or a waterproof backpack cover is a great idea. Transportation in Iceland is costly so carrying your daily essentials to reduce trips is ideal. On our last trip there it rained the entire time. Having a waterproof backpack will make any Iceland trip much more comfortable.

Recommended Items

Let’s review why some of these key suggested items can be so helpful, even though they may not be vital for an Iceland trip.

Gloves

Touch Screen Gloves | Packing list Iceland | Packing List All Times of Year | Full Iceland Packing List | Entire Packing List Iceland | Entire Iceland Packing List | Iceland Packing List | Total Iceland Packing List | Entire Packing List Iceland | touch screen glovesDepending on when you go – it could be snowing. If you plan to go up north into the highlands, you will undoubtedly encounter snow. Grabbing a pair of light gloves is ideal, and if the plan is to hike in the highlands or go ice caving, then snow gloves are recommended. Pick up a pair of touchscreen gloves so the touchscreen on the phone will still work.

External Battery Charger

Stay on the go and don’t worry about having to find a plug by bringing an external charger. Having an external charger in Iceland is important because most trips are short and transportation is expensive. Bringing an external charger will prevent trips home to charge and derailments of plans due to dead phones.

Winter Hat

A winter hat is another useful clothing item for an Iceland trip. Think of it as another layer that is easier to take on and off. With all the outdoor activities and different weather depending on location (highlands vs the black sand beach), It is nice to have a piece of clothing to warm up that is easy to store and put on.

Winter Socks

A good pair of socks will come in handy. The padding in the socks protects from blisters when hiking and keeps your feet warm. Smartwool socks or any other merino wool socks make the best winter socks hands down.

Nice to Have Items

Melatonin

Taking melatonin can keep sleep cycles intact. Most trips to iceland from the USA are redeyes, but even from other places a time change is likely. melatonin is a natural sleep aid that can be used to help sleep on the pain or at night if jet lag is keeping you from falling asleep.

Scarf

A good scarf is great for any adventure through Iceland. The Arctic wind is the last thing anyone wants blowing up their neck. Having a good scarf is also fashionable, and quite popular in Europe.

To review, here’s the full list or Required and Recommended items:

  • Waterproof boots
  • Universal Travel Adapter (Europlug)
  • Thermal clothing
  • Waterproof/winter jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • Waterproof backpack
  • Rain pants
  • Trash Bags
  • External charger
  • Winter hat
  • Gloves
  • Toiletries
  • Towel

If you want to go on an Iceland adventure with us, check out our Iceland Trips!

 

Best Gifts for Adventure Travelers

It’s time to buy that awesome gift for your globetrotting friend – or yourself :). We have tested and tried tons of products over the last year, and this list is a culmination of that. When you are looking for the best gifts for adventure travelers, it’s important to keep a few key things in mind: durability, size, portability, and utility. The best gift is rugged enough to brave the outdoors but also useful and convenient.

1. Maxracy International Travel Power Adapter
Universal Travel Adapter

I have been using the Macracy international power adapter for a good time now and have really enjoyed it. I put away my USB adapter and use this exclusively. It is super convenient for traveling to other countries – or just around the house. You can plug in two USB devices and a laptop all through one plug. It is super handy for travel or at home.
Buy Now!


2. Lamzac Inflatable Lounge Chair

Lamzac_fatboyThis inflatable lounge chair rolls up into a small portable bag. The lounge chair does not require a pump and is easy to inflate. It is great for trips, and it even floats. I took mine with me hiking, and it was amazing after a 4-hour hike to be able to lounge at the top and get some rest.
Buy Now!

 


3. Slack Line – BYA Slackline with Carrying Bag

Slacklining is fun, portable, and good for your health. Find a nice park or a beach with some coconut trees and you are set for hours. A slackline doesn’t take up too much space in a bag and is pretty light. The BYA slackline is a good beginner slack line.

Buy Now!


4.Tribit Sound GO

The Tribit XSound Go portable outdoor bluetooth wireless speaker is an awesome buy for any adventure traveler. This is a speaker, that you can easily take with you. For how small it is, it packs a punch and it lasts for 24 hours of playtime on one charge! Also, if you weren’t sure by the look of it – it’s super rugged! I have been testing it in the shower, and even submerged it in the bath, and it still works great a few weeks later.
Buy Now!


5. The “Travelers Drone” – DJI Mavic Pro

The DJI Mavic pro is just small enough that it rarely sets off any issues at customs (Drones are a hot issue in foreign countries) with no performance sacrifices. It’s a top drone, and what we use for our videos. If you are want something similar, but cheaper see the spark.
Buy Now!


6. The Long Way Round

Most people don’t know Ewen McGregor wrote two awesome books detailing his motorcycle adventures around the world with his friend Charley Boorman. Aside from tracking an epic journey on motorcycle from the UK to New York, it also explores life lessons and what they learned on the road.
Buy Now!


 7. Nomad External Charging Battery and Cable

It’s a charger that charges your phone, and the external battery at the same time. It’s rugged and ensures you always have a spare charge standing by at all times. The cord has a kevlar core and can endure the certain wear and tear that results from traveling.
Buy Now!


8. Floating Bluetooth Speaker – UE Wonderboom

A waterproof Bluetooth speaker that floats? What more can you ask for? Perfect for pool parties, and a few brews in the lake with your buds. Start a party anywhere, even underwater. IPX7 waterproof rating, shockproof, dustproof, and can play up to 10 hours of continuous music on one charge.
Buy Now!


9. VagabondingVagabonding | Gifts for travelers | Books for travelers | Books for adventure travelers | Books for travelers | Gifts for adventure travelers

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolph Potts is an awesome book. It explores the alternative lifestyle of a vagabond and details his lessons learned and stories on the road through. The book also includes budgeting tips and tricks to finance your 6-week to 2-year journey Vagabonding around the world.
Buy Now!


10. 12-in-1 Tough Headwear Microfiber Adjustable Bandana

Tough Headwear | Adjustable Headband | 12 in 1 microfiber bandana | Stretchy Bandana | Gifts for travelers | Travel Gifts | Gifts for Adventure TravelersWhile traveling the world you almost always encounter dust, bad smells, and sweaty situations. Having a microfiber bandanas is an awesome tool to help with all these problems. It can be used as a headband, dust shield, sweatband, helmet liner, and many more things.
Buy Now!


11. Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag

Waterproof Dry Bag | Earth Pak | Gifts for Travelers | Gifts for Boaters | Gifts for adventure Travelers | drybagA waterproof dry bag is a must-have for any beachgoer or boater. I used mine for the last year and it has saved my expensive electronics countless times, while on the road. Another bonus is that they float. This package also comes with a bonus phone bag!
Buy Now!


12. Sunland Microfiber Travel Towel

Travel Towel | Sunland | Gifts for travelers | Gifts for adventure travelersThe Sunland microfiber travel tower takes up little to no space in your bag and has huge value. It comes in handy after a surprise rain, or when staying at a cheap hotel that doesn’t include towels. It drys very fast, and is super absorbent and is a great gift for travelers!
Buy Now!


13. Smart Wool Socks

Smart wool socks use a special technology that helps prevent them from holding odors. They are breathable, can be worn a few times, and helps keep your luggage from smelling bad. They have multiple levels of thickness from winter socks to athletic socks. These are great gifts for hikers!

Buy Now!


14. Woolx Merino Wool T-shirt

Woolx T-shirt | Smartwool | Merino Wool | Merino Wool T-shirt | Gifts for Adventure Travlers | Gifts for TravelersMerino Wool T-shirts make great gifts for adventure travelers. The material promises that it reduces odors, and can be re-worn several times without a wash. They have short sleeves, long sleeves, and shirts for both men and women.
Buy Now!

 


15. Outdoor Waterproof Hiking Pants

Singbring Outdoor Hiking Ski Pants For Men Women | Gifts for Adventure Travelers | Gifts for TravelersWaterproof hiking pants area great gift for any outdoor enthusiast. They are thick enough to provide some basic protection from water, brush, and small tree branches but breathable enough to be comfortable. I have a pair of these that have come in handy on numerous motorcycle rides and hikes. Let’s be honest, sitting in soaking wet clothes is awful.
Buy Now!


16. Rite in the Rain Waterproof Notebook

A waterproof notebook is great for travelers. It can be used to take notes without the worry of water ruining all your hard work. It is important to note, that you will need a space pen to write on the paper underwater and in the rain.
Buy Now!

 


17. Audible Audio Books MembershipAudible Trial Membership | Gifts for travelers | Gifts for adventure travelers

Audible is an amazing gift for travelers. It gives you access to thousands of books on audio for a low monthly cost. This is perfect for downtime or those moments when you are stuck waiting in line at the airport. While you are at it, you might as well give yourself the gift of a 14-day free trial.
Buy Now!


18. DJI Spark Drone

Awesome Gifts for Travelers | best Gifts for adventure travelers | Best Gifts for Travelers

The Spark is all you could one from a drone packed into a small package. It includes all the things DJI is known: Amazing controls, high-quality camera, brand recognition, and a great battery. While it doesn’t have the battery life or performance of the Mavic Pro, it’s a smaller and cheaper alternative.
Buy Now!


19. Biolite Campstove and USB Charger

A camp stove that charges your USB devices. This is quite possibly one of the most useful camping tools anyone could ever have. I am currently saving up to take one on my next adventure. This little thing can keep you warm, help you cook food, work as a fire starter, and charge your devices all at the same time.
Buy Now!


20. Nomad Caribiner Charging Cord

The nomad carabiner charging cord is very useful. I first thought it was a little gimmicky but after a few weeks of using it – I was completely wrong. The ability to hook it on your belt loop or the side of your backpack saves space in your pockets and keeps a charge an arms reach away at all times.
Buy Now!Audible MemberShip

Best Slacklines For 2017

Leio Mclaren | Slackline | Group Trips | Life Nomading | Best Slacklines 2017

If you’ve never done slacklining before, then let me tell you that it is a stimulating activity and has several health benefits associated with it. It is a fun sport that is portable, easy to setup, and a ton of fun. Buying a slackline can get tricky though due to all the different types of slacklining styles and rigs available. We have broken down the best slacklines for 2017 by all the different styles, to save you the hassle.

If you are a beginner slackliner, we covered that in a previous article which is a good starting point.

What are the different styles of slacklining?

As mentioned before, there are many types of slacklining with new styles popping up every day. Here is a quick snapshot of the styles.

Walklining

Walklining is your standard slacklining. It just involves the basic act of walking across. While some may apply style and small moves into this type of slacklining it is nothing like trick lining, which is more active and involves more bouncing.

Tricklining

Tricklining is about busting out sick moves. It includes all sorts of tricks from spin moves to jumps and even flips. Thanks to the elasticity of the band, trickliners will alternate many times from landing on their stomach, knees, and feet. Tricklines are usually bouncier and made of a more elastic lining.

Waterlining

Any style of slacklining over water is considered waterlining. Any type of slackline can be used for slacklining, but there are specific waterlines. A waterline is specifically designed to resist the wear and tear that can happen to the line due to water.

Longlining

Longlining is the act of slacklining with a very long slackline. Most slacklines are 25-50ft, while longlines are around 100 feet or 30 meters. It can involve all other types or styles of slacklining, as long the line itself is long. Due to the length, longlines usually have less tension and sag a little more as you walk on them. Due to this, fewer tricks are done on long lines but a popular move is swaying back and forth which is called surfing. The one downside to a

The one downside to a longline is that a ratchet rigging system typically cannot work, so you will have to manually rig it using a pulley system. This pulley system is more difficult to setup and not recommended for beginners

Highlining (Airlining)

Highlining can be done with any type of slackline. Due to the height, it is typically done with a pulley rigged longline. This is for daredevils and thrill seekers. With a highline, it is always recommended to have a leash and harness in case you fall.

Comparison Table of Best Slacklines of 2017

Below we compare the key features, rigging type, and price in an easy to read table.

Best Slacklines of 2017

ProductKey FeaturesSlackline TypeRigging TypePriceBuy Now
Slackline Industries Baseline
Slackline Industries Baseline | Lifebnomading | Adventure Travel

  • Made using low-stretch polyester, making it easy to walk

  • Tree protection included

  • Certified by German Technical Inspection Association

Walkline / BasicRatchet$$Buy Now!
Gibbon Slacklines Surfer


  • Comes with a safety lock pad

  • Longest ratchet slackline: 98 ft

  • Can also be used for tricks

  • Great Customer Service

WaterlineRatchet$$$Buy Now!
Slackline Industries Trickline
Trickline | Slackline | Adventure Travel

  • Trampoline style webbing

  • Certified by German Association for Technical Inspection


TricklineRatchet$$$Buy Now!
BC Primative Slackline Kit


  • Tree protectors included

  • All parts for a primitive rig

  • 1" webbing

LonglinePrimitive$$$$Buy Now!

Closer Look at the Top Slacklines

Below we have a more in depth look at each product.

Best Trickline – Slackline Industries Trickline

Trickline | Slackline | Adventure Travelhas a high amount of reviews and is extremely easy to set up, taking no more than 10 minutes. Moreover, it is universal and can be used by kids and beginners – basically any one interested in walk lining. If you are a beginner looking for a quality baseline that takes the least amount of time to set up, Baseline is the right choice for you.
Buy Now!


Best Waterline – Gibbon Slacklines Surfer

Gibbons Slacklines are the highest quality slacklines available in the market and are known to be the most-bought slacklines in the world. The Gibbons Slacklines Surfer, for water lining, is fairly easy to setup and has high durability. Their customer support is quite responsive and they also have a slackline app for your mobile. Though it is quite expensive, it will provide great value for money in the long run. If slacklining is more than just your passion, go ahead and make the investment! Surfers would especially love this slackline!
Buy Now!


Best Walkline – Slackling Industries

The Slacklines Baseline has a high amount of reviews and is extremely easy to set up, taking no more than 10 minutes. Moreover, it is universal and can be used by kids and beginners – basically any one interested in walk lining. If you are a beginner looking for a quality baseline that takes the least amount of time to set up, Baseline is the right choice for you.
Buy Now!


 

Best Longline – BC Primitive Slackline Kit

The BC Primitive slackline is a good beginner primitive rig slackline that comes at a reasonable price. While rigging will take more time, and may be more difficult the result is more versatility. If you want to run your line shorter or longer it’s easier. It is a more manual approach that works best for longlining. It is the most expensive of all the slacklines we mentioned, but one of the best primitive slackline setups on the market for the price.
Buy Now!

Summary

Now that you know all the basic types of slacklines available in the market, it will be easier for you to make your decision. If you are new to the field of slacklining, you should opt for the Baseline, as it caters to the needs of the beginners. However, if you’re tired of simply walking on the rope and are looking to perform some new tricks, the Trickline will be your best bet! So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and defy the laws of gravity!

Image sources: Featured image by Leio Mclaren – Unsplash.

Review: Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve

Somewhere up in the mountains not too far from the small town of Mindo, Ecuador is an amazing cloud forest. We stumbled upon it during our motorcycle tour just a few weeks ago. It was a worthy stop, and the proprietor was excellent. The video below is narrated by the owner himself – he is the David Attenborough of Ecuador.

What is a Cloud Forest?

A cloud forest is a moist subtropical climate that has persistent cloud cover. Think rain forest, but with less rain and more clouds. Aside from an epic cinematic feeling while walking through it, minimal pesky insects. Due to the elevation, there are typically no mosquitos, this is the case at the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve.

How to Get There

If you have your own transport and are coming from Quito- you are likely going along the highway to Mitad del Mundo / Calacali / Mindo / Los Bancos on the route which is called Colectora Quito-La Independencia. Quito-La Independencia is one of the highways in Ecuador, and it it will be represented on google maps with the number 28 (E28). You can also take a bus route. Several tourism companies also provide transport if you want to make things easy.

You can also take a bus route and several tourism companies provide transport if you want to make things easy.

Self-Driving Highway route:

Bellavista Nature Reserve

If you type in Tandayapa on google maps and route yourself there, it will get you 80% there. The rest of the route is literally off the maps.

  1. Head towards La Indepencia / Mitad del Mundo / Calacali / Mindo on Quito La Indepencia.
  2. At km 52, there is a turn to the left just after the bridge. Follow this road past “El Paraiso del Pescador” and straight through the village of Tandayapa. Climb uphill to Bellavista. Total distance from the main road 12 km.
  3. At km 62, there is a turn up to the left, which takes you along the ridge 12 km to Bellavista. Follow the signs all the way.

Public Transport / Bus Route:

  1. Take any bus to Nanegalito from Terminal Microregional de La Ofelia in north Quito. Any bus heading for Mindo, Los Bancos or Puerto Quito passes through Nanegalito.
  2. In Nanegalito, ask any pickup truck for a ride up to Bellavista. It costs about $15 price for the ride, not per person. *See the bus schedule – for a bus to Nanegalito.

Activities

There are a ton of activities nearby the nature preserve, and there to keep you busy. From epic views to serene nature – it’s all there.

Humming Birds

Humming Bird at Bellavista Nature Preserve

For a small fee, you can watch the hummingbirds at Bella Vista. I imagine if you spent money on other things this fee could be waived, that happened to be the case when we were there. We purchased a tour hike and he allowed us to take photos of the hummingbirds for free.

Hiking

Bella Vista Cloud Forest | Life Nomading | Adventure Travel

A plant we learned about on the hike – It’s called a poor mans umbrella.

You can go for a hike at the cloud forest reserve on your own or with a guide. The guide is just a little extra – which was well worth it as the experience is much better that way. The guide told us about all the plants, wildlife, and the history of the cloud forest – quite the story!

Bird Watching

Yep, bird watching. You may not be 50 years old, and your 401k might not be stacked. However, you still have time for a little bird watching. When you find a rare bird – you get some weird sense of accomplishment. Binoculars can be rented on site.

Tandayapa Bird Lodge

Very nearby is the Tandayapa Bird Lodge, it should just be a 20 minute drive. Here you can do bird tours. Ecuador is a big bird place apparently. For $165 (Summer 2017) you can also stay at the lodge. This includes 3 meals.

Accommodations

When it comes to accommodations you can stay at the Bellavista Reserve itself or about 30 minutes away in Mindo. The reserve itself has destination worthy accommodations.

Staying at the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve Hotel

Bellavista-cloud-forest-reserve

When it Waking up on top of a mountain with insane views of a cloud forest is a special thing. That does come at a higher price – around 135 dollars for a nicer room. While 135 dollars is not a lot for a hotel, it’s more than a hotel in Mindo. It does include meals, however. The hotels in Mindo can run as little as $35 a night, but this will limit you to a day trip to the cloud forest. You can also talk to them about their budget accomodations – they have shared rooms at much lower rates.

Hotels in Mindo

  1. Dragonfly Inn BnB – for just $49 (Spring 2017) a night, and it was an excellent place. They provided secure/gated parking for our motorcycle and the manager even woke up at 5 am to give us our complimentary breakfast. This place has impeccably clean rooms and there is a calming stream that flows out back. You can hear it in the morning as you wake up, and late at night as you are drifting asleep.
    Dragonfly inn BnB | Mindo | Group Adventure Travel
  2. Mindo Lago – for $73 (Summer 2017) a night you can stay in the scenic eco-lodge. They even have a little paddle platform which you can have dinner on in their restaurant.
  3. El Abrazo del Arbol – This hotel is another boutique hotel. It has an awesome water feature. Yep, I just said water feature.
    el abrazo del arbol farm | Ecuador | Eco-lodge | Lifenomading | Adventure Travel

Our Overview

The Dome where you can stay at the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve.

When it’s all said and done – the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve gets an A+ from us. It is a very reasonably priced activity that is tons of fun. The hikes through the cloud forest are beautiful and refreshing (little to no mosquitos). The proprietor is on-site often and has a wealth of knowledge he will share with you. Also, the dome rooms at Bella Vista are some of the coolest we have ever seen. We highly recommend the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve!

Review: Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental – Self Guided Chocolate & Cloud Forest Tour

Bike-stop-quito-ecuador

Memorial day 2017 for most people meant burgers and brews in a close friends backyard. Memorial day for us was 8,000 miles away on the back of a motorcycle surrounded by clouds on top of a mountain. We heard that purring through the mountains of Ecuador on a bike was a bucket list item people take months or years to commit to – we signed up just a month before we left.

Minimize the Risk. Maximize the Adventure

Many people thought we were insane when we told them we were spending Memorial day on a motorcycle driving through the clouds atop a mountain in Ecuador. In the end, they were crazy for not coming with us!

We did the Self-Guided Chocolate & Cloud Forest tour, and it was life changing! It sounded insane and dangerous, but it didn’t feel like it. That’s because Freedom Bike Rental provided us with all the tools, and resources we needed to have a fantastic trip. No trip like this is without risk, but Freedom minimized all the known risks to make us feel as safe as possible.

Ian-Ecuador

The route is excellent, and all the stops are pre-populated into the GPS they provide you. The scenery is beautiful, and there are a ton of great stop off points. The roads are so much fun to drive on; around every winding turn and each beautiful overlook are backdrops any car commercial producer would die to get a shot of.

The Gear

Quito, Ecuador

As part of the self-guided tour, you get almost all the equipment you could need. From clothes to tech it’s all there. Below is a gear list.

Provided Gear:

  1. GPS – A nifty Zumo + Garmin GPS that charges while driving via the motorcycle. It comes preloaded with all the points of interest.
  2. Pants – Standard motorcycle pants to protect you from the pavement and the elements
  3. Gloves – Standard motorcycle gloves.
  4. Helmet – Many helmet options that were are all high quality, and DOT approved. Several helmets also included GoPro mounts.
  5. Motorcycle Jacket – Great multi-layer motorcycle jacket. A jacket with multiple layers ensures you can match the elements without losing the protection from the body armor.
  6. Emergency Equipment – This included a replacement tube, air compressor, and a first aid kit. They have a 24-hour support line and a mobile mechanic, but they provide you the tools to do it yourself if desired.
  7. Lockable Cargo Boxes – Depending on the bike model, multiple removable and lockable cargo boxes.
  8. Bungee Cords – heavy duty bungee cords to tie down additional load.

Optional Gear:

  1. Video Camera – You can rent a GoPro or a  Garmin VIRB HD camera for only $10/day.
  2. Tank Bag – A bag that mounts on the motorcycle tank $5/day
  3. Communication Headsets – A Uclear communication headset to communicate with other riders for $5/day.

For a full list of the optional add-ons and exact models check out their website. All in all, each add-on was very cheap for the value provided. For example, a GoPro costs hundred of dollars so having access to one for a few days at less than $50 is a bargain.

The equipment is great, but the tour itself is excellent. In 24-hours we saw and experienced what the average person does in a few weeks.

The Tour Stops

We obviously won’t cover every single one of the 17 stops that make up this tour. However, we picked out our favorites to provide a sufficient overview and story.

Virgin Del Camino Overlook

The overlook is one of the first stops along the tour. Whether you are religious or not, it’s recommended to pray for a good ride here. When we found ourselves looking hundreds of feet down over a daunting ledge from a motorcycle, we became religious REAL QUICK. Anyways, the Virgin Del Camino Overlook is one of the best parts throughout the tour to grab photos, so have your camera ready.

Guagrapamba Waterfall

Guagrapamba Waterfall

The waterfall hides in a scenic valley. The hike to get there is pleasant and eye catching. It’s no Victoria Falls, but it’s on the route and easy enough to get to which makes it worth your time. The waterfall is great, but the hike there rivals the beauty of the waterfall itself.

The Bellavista Cloud Forest Preserve

Humming Bird at Bellavista Nature Preserve

The Cloud Forest where the Bellavista Nature Reserve sits is breathtaking. Driving into the fog on a dirt road in the mountains has a strong cinematic feeling. I half expected a bunch of orcs to come storming through the fog at any moment. At the Reserve, you can hike, learn a ton about the forest, and stay in one of their rooms that has a breathtaking view of the mountains.

Bellavista-cloud-forest-reserve

The Bellavista Cloud Forest Preserve has an incredibly knowledgeable owner and the operator by the name of Richard Parsons. He is an Englishman who is referred to by some as a walking BBC documentary. If he is around while you are there pick his brain as much as possible, as he is extremely knowledgeable about the cloud forest and travel in general. He built the Cloud Forest from the ground up.

While we traversed through the cloud forest, we stumbled upon some spectacular views and this beautiful swing that went right over a massive drop down into a valley. It was a surreal experience, but it is not for the faint of heart. Taking a spill off the swing could have put a monkey wrench in our vacation experience. As they say though, no risk no reward.

The Small Town of Mindo

Mindo-Ecuador

Mindo is a small town north of Quito, Ecuador that has a population of just a few thousand people. While the tour is self-guided and we could choose our pace, following Freedom Ecuador’s advice and staying a night in Mindo is the right move.

For $15 we had an excellent steak with a Club Cerveza. If you want a night out, there is a small Karaoke bar called late night bar. They have drink specials and seem to be relatively accustomed to foreigners.

We stayed at the Dragonfly Inn BnB for just $49 (Spring 2017) a night, and it was an excellent place. They provided secure/gated parking for our motorcycle and the manager even woke up at 5 am to give us our complimentary breakfast.

The Butterfly Garden

The Mariposas de Mindo Butterfly Garden in Mindo is a rare experience. It is a small café and garden where you can enter a netted area filled with over 1200 butterflies and moths. There is also a small restaurant and hotel here. If you are lucky, a butterfly might just land on your hand!

The Chocolate and Coffee Tour

The El Quetzal Restaurant and Chocolate Factory is delicious and informative. We didn’t make it in time to see their detailed tour that shows the age-old process of making chocolate from bean to bar, but we enjoyed a delicious mocha coffee. The tours run all day 10am-5pm every day on the hour. The coffee and chocolate are incredible, as promised.

The Pululahua Crater

Pululahua-Crater-Ecuador

The Pululahua Crater is a dormant volcano that sits north of Quito. The Caldera is 5km wide and filled with beautiful greenery. If you have free time, you can even stop and do horseback riding in the bottom of the crater.

The Crater was the best or second best part of the trip. We parked our motorcycle for free just in front of the small, unassuming entrance. Just around the corner is a beautiful lush green crater that has a small town right in the middle of it. A fantastic view seemingly tucked away like this is quintessential Ecuador. At every turn, you are surprised with a view so spectacular it seems to rival the one you saw just moments ago.

Conclusion: Ecuador Freedom’s Cloud Forest Tour is Daring and Beautiful

The Freedom Bike Rental Self-guided Chocolate & Cloud Forest Tour is a once in a lifetime experience. The Freedom Bike Rental company is well organized and kind. The whole process exceeded our expectations! It was risky, but in the end, the only time we almost laid the bike down was when a few tiny dogs chased us – they felt bigger in the moment :).

If you are on the edge of taking up a daring adventure – just go! Walking around Los Angeles at night or driving through rush hour traffic can be more dangerous than a motorcycle tour through Ecuador. We can’t wait to go back to Ecuador and rip through the mountains, but this time we want to make it all the way to the beach! If you are unsure take a peek at the video below that pushed me over the edge and convinced me that I absolutely had to go!

Note: All views expressed are our own and we were NOT compensated by Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental.

Image Sources:
All Images are taken by Life Nomading unless otherwise stated.
Cloudforest – Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve, Dragonfly Bnb – Bed and Breakfasts Europe, Chocolate Tour – Rodrigo Buendia., Mariposas De Mindo – Tripadvisor

Comments questions or concerns tweet us @lifenomading.

Part 5: Adventures in Sumatra, Indonesia

Himbit arrived at our house un summoned, per usual, around 8am. It was time for the cookout. This cookout was different  than your typical BBQ, because we were capturing the chicken and killing it ourselves.

Couping the Coop

This was actually our second day attempting the cookout, because yesterday Himbit had been unable to “capture a chicken” While this is rural Indonesia, it isn’t 10,000 B.C; This is not the time of hunter gatherers. From our perspective we we’re now under the assumption that the chicken was being stolen. Nonetheless, a chicken was “captured” on day 2. 

Harrison (my travel partner) offered to kill the chicken. We held it down, and Himbit instructed him to look to the sky and speak a few words in Batak. Batak is a local variation of the Indonesian language. Harrison spoke words of thanks to the earth for the food. Himbit explained this as paying respect to the chicken’s life being taken. Finally, the deed was done and the cookout began.

De-feathering a chicken in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia.

De-feathering a chicken in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia.

While moost vegetarian or animal lover readers may be offended by the process of killing a chicken and/or the lack of respect for animals – I completely refute this. This process made me respect animals and the food served at my table more than I ever have. In the western world, we are washed clean from this. It is something we do not often see, and we feel as though the food just magically appears at our tables.

The cookout was an amazing time, and the chicken was the best chicken I have eaten to this day. It was battered in a mix of herbs, spices, and finely ground nuts. 

Grilling in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia

Grilling in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia

Farewell

The barbecue winded down and we played music for the last time. Tuk Tuk, Indonesia had changed us. The music, the people, and the unrivaled natural beauty we’re amazing. We both knew this experience would never be forgotten. We said goodbye to Himbit the following morning. He drew a small map of the island and wrote a note for us to remember the experience. We gave him a tip for all he had done for us that last couple days. Himbit served us well as a friend, and a guide. He played great tunes, and I hope one day he gets to meet Kid Rock (basically his music hero).

Farming in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia

To this day this Tuk Tuk, Indonesia and Lake Toba remain one of my fondest memories. What is your fondest travel memory? If you don’t have one I encourage you to make one. Go out and see the world. Take what you have learned home with you. Change your outlook. Grow.

Do you have any questions, or comments? please comment below or tweet me @marekjmichalski.

Part 4: Adventures in Sumatra, Indonesia

We woke up early in the morning after a long night of singing and drinking. We had a bit of a hangover and a lot of excitement. It was an amazing experience so far, but we we’re less than a full day into our 4 night stay on the Island of Tuk Tuk.

Up the Mountain with Himbit

Himbit kinda just showed up at our villa (didn’t even need to call him) and gave us a ride back to his house to pickup some scooters we we’re renting from him. We grabbed the phone number of his friends from last night, and a barbecue was on the books for the next day.

Grab the scooters and hit the road. Around the island, up the mountain, down a hill, and through the farmlands we went. Away from the tourist villas and over to the other side of the island.

Kids were walking home from school. Oxen were plowing fields. It was so different, but familiar at the same time. Parallels were everywhere.

School Children in North Sumatra, Indonesia

Kids walking home from school in North Sumatra.

Life here is more simple. There is no rushing of cars, people aren’t walking around half cocked, and everyone is easygoing. In the fast paced and connected world we live in these days life can be hypercritical. We feel so busy. We feel overwhelmed. It’s all analyzed under a microscope over social media, through data, everyone is hypersensitive.

Kids in North Sumatra

Biking around Indonesia we stumbled upon some construction; It’s a family affair.

At 23 years old I finally learned that abundance had nothing to do with wealth, or the minutia that occupied my daily worries. Passion, family, music, and relationships filled the people of Tuk Tuk to the brim.

The Rain

About halfway up the mountain in the middle of the lake, we figure out why no one is here. It’s rainy season, and a torrential downpour is on the way. We snapped this photo just before we headed inside a shanty on the edge of the road.

The shanty was a coffee shop on the top of the mountain. It looked like a rigged up store that someone might have in their garage. It sat on the side of a cliff, and every few minutes I glanced around to make sure the building wasn’t starting to turn into a disintegrating toboggan.We grabbed coffee, and like one does at Lake Toba, played the guitar. Literally every business on the island of Tuk Tuk must have a guitar. The building inspector must check that their is a guitar; it’s a requirement to open your business.

We waited for over an hour and the storm didn’t wain for a moment. It was time to face the rain. Two hours up the mountain was still two hours down. There was no rain gear. We drove right through it and nearly froze to death.

After getting back to then villa I raced to a hot shower. We looked forward to the barbecue, and the warm day that would hopefully await us tomorrow. Find out what happens next in Part 5.

Do you have any questions, or comments? please comment below or tweet me @marekjmichalski.

Best Inflatable Paddle Boards 2017

Top Inflatable Paddle boards 2017

Paddle boarding is more than just something you rent on vacation. It is one of the most thrilling water sports of all time! Which is why we reviewed the top inflatable paddle boards of 2017.

When you merge surfing with kayaking, it gives birth to paddle boarding! Let’s first learn a bit about its history. In the 1940s, Hawaiian surfers used paddles to tweak their wave catching. However, it took the form of a leisure activity, about 10 years ago, in California.

Paddle Boarding in Hawaii. Image: Aditya Siva

Paddle boarding has been exploding because it offers several health benefits, including a full body workout, which aids in improving your cardio fitness and flexibility; all these benefits and more, whilst playing with water and enjoying nature. Worth it, isn’t it?

Thanks to the ever-growing technology and advancements, we now have the option of inflatable paddleboards, making it extremely convenient for paddle-boarders to carry them around.

Here we have compiled the best inflatable paddleboards for your convenience.

Comparison Chart of Best Inflatable Paddle Boards 2017

ProductKey FeaturesPriceBuy Now
Tower Paddle Boards
Adventurer SUP
Tower_paddle_adventure_SUP
• Made of Military-grade PVC material, which makes it highly durable
• Includes a 3-piece adjustable fiberglass paddle.
• Easy to carry, as it is 9’10"

$$$Buy Now!
Sportstuff 1030 Adventure
Stand-Up Paddle Board
Sportstuff_Stand-Up_Paddle_Board
• Comes with large anti-skid Eva pads for secure footing
• Package includes all the important accessories
• Certified frustration-free
$Buy Now!
Vilano Journey Inflatable
Stand-Up Paddle Board
Vilano_Journey_Inflatable _Stand-up_paddle_board
• Made using PVC material with Korean drop-stitch construction
• Comes with a removable carry strap and backpack
• Has Comfortable diamond groove traction for grip and Stainless D-rings
$$Buy Now!
Bestway Hydro-Force
Stand-Up Paddleboard
Bestway_Hydro-Force_Stand-up_Paddleboard
• Has one removable middle fin to improve directional stability
• Suitable for beginners and intermediate paddlers
• Has a built-in carry handle, making it easier to transport
$Buy Now!
Aqua Marina Vapor Inflatable
Stand-up Paddle Board
Aqua_Marina_Vapor_Inflatable_Stand_up_Paddle_board
• Includes a honey groove EVA anti-slip footpad
• Has a stainless steel D-rings on the tail for safety leash, and extra ones to attach a Kayak seat
• Designed specifically for beginners
$$Buy Now!

Product Summary of the Top Inflatable Paddle Boards 2017

Now that you have a good comparison of the key features, lets dig into the details of the top inflatable paddle boards. Below we take a closer look at the pros and cons of the inflatable paddle boards up for review.


Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer

Tower Paddle Boards AdventurerThis Paddleboard is one of the most expensive but highly reviewed paddleboards available in the market. They are not only highly durable, but also extremely rigid, with a weight limit of up to 350 lbs. Also, it comes with a 2-year warranty, which means that it is going to last you a long time – making it worth the price!
Current Pricing and Details


Sportstuff 1030 Adventure Paddle board

Sportstuff 1030 Adventure PaddleboardIt has large anti-skid EVA pads that secure the paddler’s foot, providing optimum protection. They have a maximum capacity of about 250 lbs., and are super convenient! Also, it comes with a Mesh backpack, allowing you to keep all your accessories together. In our opinion, it is a great all-rounder paddleboard!
Current Pricing and Details


The Vilano Journey Inflatable Paddle board

Vilano-Journey-Inflatable-Stand-PaddleThis is made using a high grade PVC material, which makes it highly durable. It provides excellent grip and has an anti-slip deck pad that makes it comfortable for paddling all day long. More so, it has a bungee on the front deck for storage needs. What more could one ask for?
Current Pricing and Details 


The Bestway Hydro-Force Paddle board

HydroForce-WaveEdge-Inflatable-Stand-PaddleboardIt is the cheapest option you will find in the market, whilst also being highly reviewed. It is extremely easy to use, which makes it the best inflatable paddleboard for beginners. If you are looking for a cheap option but don’t want to compromise on the quality, this is the paddleboard to go for!
Current Pricing and Details


Aqua Marina Vapor Paddle board

Aqua-Marina-Inflatable-Stand-up-PaddleThis is neither too expensive, nor too cheap. It comes with a magic backpack to keep your supplies in one place and allow you to carry it conveniently. Also, the inflated drop stitch chamber on the paddleboard offers comfort and stability, and is ideal for newbies.
Current Pricing and Details


Review of the Top Inflatable Paddle boards on the Market

After having reviewed all the best inflatable paddleboards, you can now easily make your decision regarding which paddleboard is the most suitable for you.

If you ADORE paddle boarding, and find that it is more than just a hobby for you, invest in the best and go for the Tower Padle Boards Adventurer SUP. However, if you are short on your budget but still want to experience the thrill, we would recommend you to go for the Bestway Hydro-Force Paddleboard. Paddle boarding, if done right, can provide you with the most thrilling experience of your life! So dance with the waves, enjoying nature in its purest form!

Part 3: Adventures in Sumatra

Toba Village Inn

It was late at night, and the Moon’s reflection shimmered across the serene Lake Toba. We heard the voice of 4 men singing in harmony echoing off the lake. I instantly knew what we were doing next.

I looked over at my travel partner, Harrison, and said “Let’s go. We are finding the music.” Music had been all around us since day one at Lake Toba. I knew it was important to their culture by its presence everywhere we went. This was our chance to dig deeper.

Jamming With the Locals

We started walking down the single road that ran the circumference of the island. It was dark as ever, the light from our mobile showed the path, but our ears guided us to the music.

We came upon a group of musicians singing, jamming, and drinking the night away. We were welcomed immediately, offered a seat, and a drink as well. They were drinking something that almost looked like milk, and now we were too. It was “Tuak.” A type of palm wine made from tapping the sap from a palm tree into a jug for fermentation.

Making Tuak in Indonesia. Image: https://kumpulanliriklagutoraja.blogspot.com

We started chugging down some strange palm wine, while we sang harmonies with the locals. The songs themselves were all about the lake. We sang “Danau Toba!!” which was the little we knew in Indonesia….It means Lake Toba.
*Palm wine can be dangerous if made incorrectly. The methanol can cause blindness. Trust who you drink it from.

It was an amazing experience. To visit another country and be welcomed into their element. Not only as an observer, but as a participant. The lake was their livelihood, they all made their living from it in some way. It is no surprise that the songs paid homage to the lake.

It’s a Small Island

After we sang, we got to talking and of course someone knew Himbit. It turns out Himbit’s brother was there. We quickly made friends, and  started talking about future plans together. Someone asked us “Have you ever killed a chicken?” Being raised in suburban Ohio, our answer was an obvious no. To be honest, I hadn’t killed anything more than a bug. I didn’t really understand. Our new  friend asked us to come over for a barbecue. He insisted we capture and kill the chicken ourselves.

I have eaten chicken in my life hundreds, maybe thousands of times, but it has never been the same since this. Find out what happens next in the series in part 4.

 

Do you have any questions, or comments? please comment below or tweet me @marekjmichalski.