With another year coming to a close, I wanted to take a look back at a few of the moments that made 2017 exceptional. 2017 brought on its own host of challenges, the good, the bad and the ugly. I learned a tremendous amount about myself and the life I want to pursue. I ticked off a major career goal and embarked on a trip of a lifetime. And I got to spend some serious quality time at home and reunite with a few of favourite humans in far flung locations. These are my Top 10 Moments of 2017.
#10 Exploring Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia
Comuna 13 was once known for being the most dangerous neighbourhood in Medellin when it held the title of “murder capital of the world”. This barrio has since undergone a complete transformation. And it has now become a Mecca for Medellin street art. While in Medellin I did a four hour Graffiti tour led by locals from Casa Kolacho. A community group aimed at keeping kids off the street, and introducing them to arts and music. The art that covers the comuna tells the story of the dark past. But it also showcases the every growing hope the community has for its future. One of my favourite walking tours of the year and one of the most surprising, vibrant and welcoming areas of the city.
#9 Hiking the otherworldly Valle De Cocora in Salento, Colombia
With the beginnings of a chest infection setting in and the tail end of a cold still hanging on, the 11km hike through the Valle de Cocora in Colombia was daunting. Jesse and I made last minute decision to double back on the trail and find another route to the wax palms. After some helpful “advice” from the park ranger at the front gate, we veered off the trail on our own adventure. We waded through an ice cold river and ended up thigh deep in a swamp. Climbed 600m straight up a hill through a farmers field dotted with cows. And finally ended up amongst the mythical wax palms. Off the beaten path we found ourselves in the company of the tallest palms in the world.
#8 Getting up close with sting rays at Hamelin Bay, Margaret River, Australia
I didn’t quite know what to expect when Liz and I went searching for majestic sting rays at Hamelin Bay. But it didn’t take long for expectations to be blown out of the water as we played with these gentle giants. Coming right up to shore we were able to reach in touch these beautiful creatures.
#7 Experimenting with night photography in Melbourne, Australia
One of the absolute legends I had a pleasure of meeting in 2017 was Renzo. My co-worker at the cafe in Melbourne and a fellow travel writer/gyspy, we got along famously. One of the absolute stand out moments of the year was when we went out in Melbourne to photograph street art at night. I was sick and feeling sorry for myself, but pushed through. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Seeing this side of the city was so refreshing and sparked a childlike wonder inside of me that is often stifled by responsibility. Read about our adventure and check out all the photos Here.
#6 Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua
The number two spot on the CNN Thrillseekers Bucketlist was an easy addition to my top moments. After an hour of hiking up Cerro Negro in sweltering midday heat, we strapped in for a ride unlike anything else. The unbelievable rush that comes with flying down the side of a volcano on a plank of wood is an adrenaline junkies dream. It is definitely the biggest thrill on this list, and one of the coolest things I’ve done. Looking for more Nicaragua inspiration? Check out my Ultimate Travel Guide!
#5 The most epic sunset I have ever seen in Hopetoun, Australia
A chance encounter with the most incredible sunset on a deserted beach. It was one of the undoubted highlights of my Western Australia roadtrip. We chased many incredible sunsets on our three week journey, the show that mother nature put on for us this night was still far and away the best. Running down the powder white sand beach, dinner in hand. Laughing hysterically as we tried to get to a rocky outcrop before the fiery sky disappeared. Without another soul in sight. A secret display of mother natures infinite glory, just for us. Read the full story and see more photos here.
#4 Celebrating my 28th with winery adventures in Margaret River, Australia
The delicious cherry on the top of our epic Western Australia road trip, was my 28th birthday celebrations. Surrounded by new and old friends, we spent the day vineyard hopping around the stunning Margaret River Wine Region. Sun soaked, sipping buttery Chardonnay’s, it was the perfect celebration to mark a new year.
#3 Sailing through the postcard perfect San Blas Islands in Panama
My first ever sailing trip was spent 5 days aboard a 60ft sailboat with 17 strangers. Surrounded by nothing but ocean and postcard perfect islands surrounding us. The trip took us from Puerto Lindo in Panama, through the quintessentially Caribbean San Blas Islands to our final port in Cartagena, Colombia. 5 Days of island hopping, swimming in crystal clear water, lounging on white sand beaches and learning about the Kuna people. Making real my dreams of being a pirate of the Caribbean, and ticking off an unreal bucket list item.
#2 Exploring to the most northern tip of South America in Northern Colombia
Unlike any place I have been before, Punta Gallinas was not an part of the original plan. However after hearing stories of the surreal landscape and adventurous terrain, we decided to make the trip. A epic journey in itself to get to, standing on the tip of the South American continent was an adventurers dream. A barren land where the dessert meets the Caribbean Sea. It truly felt like we had arrived at the edge of the earth. Standing on the top of a 100m high sand dune that ends in turquoise waves was nothing short of magic.
#1 Having my first ever PAID travel article published in the Globe and Mail
Ever since I first started documenting my travels, I have dreamed of having my words published in the pages of the travel section. Writing is not my background and has never been my strongest skill. But hard work and perseverance paid off in April 2017 with my first paid publication. Nestled in the pages of the Globe and Mail Travel Section was a story with my name on the byline. A huge milestone in my career and an incredibly surreal moment of validation. Without a doubt this was my Top Moment of 2017!
So there you have it! My Top 10 moments of 2017.
It was an epic year of epic adventures around this big beautiful world of ours. My big goal heading into the new year is to build on what 2017 brought. More amazing moments, more epic memories and more growing this big ol’ dream of mine!