Tag

waterfall

Browsing

Be frivolous. Be brave.

TravelWhenever

Sheep’s Waterfall

Kirkjufellfoss

Bjarnarfoss

TIPS?!

IGTV

Iceland will always have a special place in my heart and I will definitely revisit this country in a heartbeat! It was my first time to Europe, and I was so glad I had someone so spontaneous and willing to go on this trip with me.

J and I freezing our fingers off for camera shots!

I remember us looking at the world map at my dining table in the living room; shortlisting countries we could head next for our adventure.

‘If not now, then when?’ was something that my friend mentioned to me during our conversation one random day at lunch. And that hit me hard. I have always wanted to go Europe, but have always put that on hold because I have placed Europe on the highest pedestal ever. I wanted it to be perfect and just wanted to find the perfect time.

Well, there is no perfect time but NOW. You create your own perfect time. Because looking at how the situation is right now, sometimes, you just have to do things you want or crave NOW (when you still can), if not when?

Let’s start off with the Western Region, Snæfellsnes Peninsula first! Iceland, here we go!  

Sheep’s Waterfall

Sheep’s Waterfall
Operating Hours:24/7
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour or less
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Sheep’s Waterfall was not part of the itinerary. We just stumbled across when driving and saw a parking area with a few people climbing up from beyond. We were curious and decided to check it out. #noregrets

signboard at the parking area

It was such a pleasant impromptu discovery! Because it was not part of our Snæfellsnes Peninsula itinerary and thus did not research on it, we initially did not venture far. We saw the vast open field with the lake at our peripheral vision and thought, ‘Alright, this is just it.’.

vast open green field

We were about to leave after a few snaps when one guy, with his partner, climbed up from further down the hill and exclaimed that there was a waterfall below. The view was so much nicer down there. He added that we should totally check that out!

three billy goats gruff?

And this is the reason why I love travelling. You encounter random strangers all with an open mind and heart to discover and share the beauty seen. If it wasn’t for this kind soul, we would probably not have seen the waterfall and the sheep.

It was only Googling much later and connecting the dots that I realised the place is called Sheep’s Waterfall, for very obvious reasons. Sheep were just free-roaming near the waterfall. It was amazing!

If you are heading up to Kirkjufellfoss in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, do check this one out! Not much walking involved for such a beautiful experience! Why not?

You could venture behind the waterfall too!

Kirkjufellfoss

The mighty Kirkjufell from afar.
Operating Hours:24/7
Recommended length of visit:~ 2 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
On the way into Grundarfjörður town.

Everyone flocking to Snæfellsnes Peninsula would imperatively head for the must-visit Kirkjufellfoss. Because this cylindrical shaped mountain is pretty massive, you could already see it from afar. There are viewpoints just near Grundarfjörður town to get a more wide-angle shot of the mountain. Just Google ‘Kirkjufell Viewpoint’ for a more legit space to snap, or anywhere safe really. Kirkjufell looks magnificent 360o.

Kirkjufell as the backdrop en route into Grundarfjörður town.
Kirkjufell Viewpoint
Kirkjufell Viewpoint

The more popular spot for many is definitely the closeup shot. There are parking spaces on each side of the road. Because it is a very popular tourist spot, there were people, locals I presume, there to navigate visitors to park their vehicles safely.

And the series of mini waterfalls begin… …

It was so cold that day, and it was raining still. But oh well, we had to make do. The thing about Iceland was that, with minimal walking, you could get fantastic views that would take you out of this world.

From the parking lot, you could already see how amazing Kirkjufell mountain is! I was pretty much mind-blown. All those many Google images I had seen on my laptop were now right in front of me! Spectacular!

You could admire a series of mini waterfall as you amble around it on the structured walkway. But of course, the star of the show is imperatively the mountain as the backdrop!

No amount of words can express how amazing this sight was for me. The main reason for us driving to the Western Region of Iceland, was to marvel at this very sight!

I can only imagine if the Northern Lights were just dancing above the mountain on a freezing cold night. Oh how magical would it be. But having seen this for myself, I was already pretty satisfied, even without the Northern Lights! 🙂

Bjarnarfoss

Operating Hours:24/7
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Just like Sheep’s Waterfall, Bjarnarfoss was also not part of the itinerary. We just stumbled across when driving back to Reykjavík. We espied a really tall waterfall from afar while on Snæfellsnesvegur highway. Again, #noregrets.

view along Snæfellsnesvegur highway

I guess we see a pattern here huh? When in Iceland, if you could spare a few moments for a quick explore, you might actually find a hidden gem that you might have missed out during your travel research! In fact, we were not supposed to travel on this road back to the city. To be honest, I have no idea why we took this slightly longer route instead. A blessing in disguise I reckon!

Pretty little house in nature’s embrace.

There were plenty of parking lots, but no restroom available though. This is a great place for a pitstop and maybe a picnic? There are picnic tables available. There is a cute little house just beneath the waterfall. I remember we were joking that if we could get a house just like that with a waterfall at the backyard and a front porch of massive green field, oh how amazing it would be! Serenity at its finest. Haha! One can only dream.

On the walking trail towards the waterfall.
The crashing waters beneath the waterfall.

The walking trail was pretty manageable considering we did not venture further pass the bridge. We just admired the waterfall from its foot. If you would want the full experience, I heard from the people climbing down from the hike that it can be a little steep and challenging? So if you are up for a hike, maybe this could be your go-to! Just remember to wear firm-gripping shoes!

I am honestly not sure if this place is also a camping site, but we did see one solo camper having his breakfast?

Camper embracing nature!

If you have some time to spare, I do recommend you just heading to the bridge. It was pretty refreshingly serene!

TIPS?!

Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Western Region Iceland was really just a touch-and-go situation. Alas, we did not have much time to explore what this region really could offer. I am sure we have missed out quite a few gems given only spending 1 night here!

1I reckon given at Snæfellsnes Peninsula, I would love to head further West to explore the famous glacier-peaked volcano and black sand beaches at Snæfellsjökull National Park. Hraunfossar and Glanni Waterfall are also places that I would love to visit. I had these in my itinerary but we did not have enough time for them. If you are heading to the Western Region, may be you could check these out too! 🙂
2We went to Saga Centre Grundarfjordur in the small town to enquire about some travel stuff, and stumbled across Mæstro – Street food. It was so happen our car was parked near this food truck and we were just massively hungry. We ordered hotdogs. Eating hot food in the car on a cold day was really a bliss. Their hotdogs were pretty good. I loved it! I reckon they do not operate during the Winter, so do check on Google before heading over. Or if you happen to pass Grundarfjörður township, maybe you could pop by to check it out!
lunch in the car
J getting us our lunch!

Just writing and reminiscing about Iceland makes me miss traveling so very much. I can definitely see myself heading back to Iceland again in the future. And the next time, I would definitely want to venture the Eastern Region of Iceland!

IGTV

If you were like me, thinking that travel experiences could be put on hold till a better time, don’t. Experiences are priceless. You work hard, you experience the world hard too!

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

For now, let’s just stay home until it is safe for the next adventure! 😀

Dee

Be frivolous. Be brave.

TravelWhenever

Day 1 Highlights

Rai Maneesorn (Sunflower Field)

Midwinter Green Khao Yai (Restaurant)

Day 2 Highlights

Khao Yai National Park (Important Information)

Khao Yai 30km. View Point (in Khao Yai National Park)

Dinner at ครัวหญ้าคาเขาใหญ่ (Thai Restaurant)

Day 3 Highlights

Palio Khao Yai

The Chocolate Factory Khao Yai

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

TIPS?!

IGTV

Best time to visit Khao Yai:End November to Early January
Recommended length of visit at Khao Yai:~ 3 nights (max. 4 nights at best, and really stretching it!)

With the constant advertisements on the things to do beyond Bangkok city itself, we have places like Hua Hin (~ 2.5 hours from Bangkok) and Khao Yai (~ 3 hours from Bangkok) popping up every so often. Which reminds me, I should probably start working on my Hua Hin article soon huh. 😀

Khao Yai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Khao Yai National Park is the third largest and probably the most visited! If you were to do a quick google image search on Khao Yai, you would probably see quaint-looking buildings that you would not believe they are actually located in Thailand. The buildings / hotels are designed to make you feel like you are in some European scene immersed in lush green calmness. Well, at least that was my impression of Khao Yai even before I went. Oh and also not to forget the amazing sunflower fields filling the entire vista!

J and I trying to catch the sunlight.

There are so many luxurious themed hotels that will take your breath away and be just spoil for choices, so I will not delve into that. Let me bring you through my 4D3N stay at Khao Yai – things in my itinerary you can probably forgo and things that are must dos!

Day 1 Highlights: Rai Maneesorn (Sunflower Field)

Operating Hours:07 00 – 18 00 daily
Entrance Fee:Foreigner: 80 Baht / pax

Local Adult: 40 Baht / pax

Local Child: 20 Baht / pax

(collection of fee happens at the carparking area; someone will signal you to wind down your window and pay up as you are parking your vehicle)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 – 2 hours

(depending on how intense you want your sunflower selfie game to be)
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

We arrived at the sunflower field at about 16 30. Considering that the sun would be setting in about 1.5 hours’ time, there were not many visitors. The evening air was cooling and crisp! There was not much I could ask for. Everyone could find their own little spot around the big vast field to have plentiful of beautiful pictures with the sunflowers and not be obstructed. The distant sunset as the backdrop added an awesome texture to the whole peripheral vision I must say!

You will not be stopped by anyone when you step onto and between the rows of sunflowers on the planting field. Just make sure you are gracious enough to do not pluck, destroy or stomp on any sunflowers in the process! 😀

As there are not much shady areas to hide from the sultry afternoon sun, I suggest visiting the field in the morning or evening! I would prefer the evening.

This sunflower field is a must visit place when in Khao Yai. You have to make sure you do not miss it!

Day 1 Highlights: Midwinter Green Khao Yai (Restaurant)

Operating Hours:10 00 – 22 00 daily
Personal Breakdown Rating: (out of 5)Ambience 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Service 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Food Quality 🙂 🙂
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):~ 1150 Baht

(This also depends on what exactly you are order. We had 2 mains and 2 sides.)

The WOW factor of course came from the ambience. I have to say it is probably one of the most romantic dinner spots I have seen, especially the outdoor seating – which by the way, has people queuing for. We decided to take the indoor seating as it was a pretty cold night and I was already freezing my arse off just walking from the parking lot all the way to the restaurant.

Outside Midwinter Green restaurant.

The outdoor seating took my breath away with its dim lightings and candles on each table. There was also a stage outside with a live band. I would say it would make a perfect date night! However, being me, I could not appreciate it that much as I wonder how long would anyone’s bowl of cream of mushroom soup remain hot out in the cold? 15 seconds or less? Haha! 😀

The restaurant’s property is amazingly lit. Alas, food wise… … I would say for the price I paid for, it was definitely going to the ambience. I could get better food with such a price point elsewhere I reckon, but of course that is just my opinion.

Unless you just want to splurge and have a chill expensive dinner night out, I would think you can just give this restaurant a miss.

Khao Yai National Park (Important Information)

Address:There are 2 entrances into Khao Yai National Park.

Khao Yai National Park Southern Fee Entrance Station
Noen Hom, Mueang Prachinburi District, Prachin Buri 25230, Thailand

Khao Yai National Park Northern Fee Entrance Station
Lam Takhong Mu Si, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand

I would reckon most of us would be coming in from the Northern entrance as most accommodations are located there.
Operating Hours of  Khao Yai National Park:06 00 – 18 00 daily
Entrance Fee: (one-time payment into the park will allow you to see all the sights within the park)Adult Foreigner: 400 Baht / pax

Child Foreigner: 200 Baht / pax

Local Adult: 40 Baht / pax

Local Child: 20 Baht / pax

NOTE: Entrance ticket is only valid for 1 day. If you are setting up camp or staying in some bungalows in the National Park, then the ticket is valid for 3 days!
Recommended length of visit:~ 6 – 8 hours
Overall Personal Rating of National Park: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (a brush of fresh air in the outskirts)

Day 2 Highlights: Haew Suwat Waterfall (in Khao Yai National Park)

Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

We were there at about 09 00 and there were already quite a handful of people. From the parking lot, we had to walk 200 m on uneven ground and down a series of flight of stairs. Definitely wearing firm gripping shoes is much needed.

You need to navigate through loose rocks underfoot and boulders before having the waterfall directly right in front of you.

To get a more artistic angle of the waterfall, venture further towards a mini cave-like indent on the right. Not much people would manoeuvre their way there, so you have quite a bit of personal space to enjoy the waterfall!

This sight was definitely a nice way to start the cold morning!

Day 2 Highlights: Haew Narok Waterfall (in Khao Yai National Park)

Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

We were there at about noon,  and oh boy the crowd was man insane. By this time, the weather was not very forgiving. The humidity, together with the mosquitoes, were starting to get to our skin.

We started with a gentle descend on concrete ground for about 10 minutes followed by crossing a wooden bridge. There was a rest point and a viewing area of the river before a flight of steps up.

View from the wooden bridge.

Thereafter, we had to make our way down a series of incredibly narrow steep steps to the viewing deck of the waterfall. Good thing there were handle bars on each side for people to have an additional grip, as it can be proven a challenge for some visitors.

There is no rush, so just take your time to make your way there!

Comparing Haew Suwat Waterfall and this waterfall, I would prefer the earlier. I guess the part of manoeuvring through the boulders and getting into the little cave-like indent still gets to me instead of just mere viewing the waterfall from the top deck down.

On a side note, not related to this waterfall… …We settled for a simple lunch at Noen Homme Café (just outside Khao Yai National Park, exiting the Khao Yai National Park Southern Fee Entrance Station), about 15 minutes’ drive from the waterfall.

Oh I have to say, their sliced cake was so so good. I am not sure if it was because I was so hungry, but it was really good. Haha! 😀

Day 2 Highlights: Khao Yai 30km. View Point (in Khao Yai National Park)

Mountainous vista from view point.
Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 20 minutes
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

After speaking with Noen Homme Café owner, we took a longer respite and decided to forgo the other attractions that was planned. She recommended that we headed back as the sun was setting and the drive to the Khao Yai National Park Northern Fee Entrance Station was a distance away. She mentioned that wild animals tend to start roaming at dusk and can be a little dangerous.

Hence, we decided to just take our time to drive back to our accommodation up North now that we had quite a bit of time to spare having forgo an attraction or two!

This viewing point was unplanned. There were many cars parked on the side, and that caught our attention. We decided to follow suit and did not regret it! The view was amazingly calming! You can see the distant hills and the valley just below. It was evening and the cool breeze now envelopes the surroundings. A nice way to end of a day trip in Khao Yai National Park!

Day 2 Highlights: Dinner at ครัวหญ้าคาเขาใหญ่ (Thai Restaurant)

Address:101/3 หมู่5 ตำบลหมูสี ปากช่อง Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
Operating Hours:10 00 – 20 00 daily
Personal Breakdown Rating: (out of 5)Ambience 🙂 🙂 🙂
Service 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Food Quality 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):~ 425 Baht (this also depends on what exactly you are order)
For only 2 girls, we sure did order a hell load!

It was a random Google searched restaurant just 5 minutes’ drive from our accommodation. We wanted to eat something local. For the price range and quality of Thai dishes, I would imperatively say I would go back again. Really not a bad Thai restaurant! Yum yum! Ah how I miss Thai food!

Day 3 Highlights: Palio Khao Yai

Operating Hours:Sunday – Thursday (08 30 – 21 00)
Saturday & Public Holiday (08 30 – 22 00)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1.5 – 2 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

We started the day by ambling through a shopping complex that is Tuscan village-themed. I would say there are probably only 3 reasons for you to decide on heading to Palio Khao Yai.

Uno: You are into little handmade trinkets and quirky-looking items for gifts and souvenirs.

Dos: You want a nice place to relax and have a cuppa; soaking up the chill Sunday vibes.

Tres: You want to have an Instagram-worthy shot or shots.

If you want none of the above, I would say just give this a miss. You are not really missing out. Haha! I would not go back to this place again. Not because it is not nice, but I guess themed places maybe isn’t my cuppa, if you know what I mean. Of course, if you are referring to themed parks then that’s totally different! 😀

But I must say this place would definitely score you some insta-worthy shots! That’s for sure!

Day 3 Highlights: The Chocolate Factory Khao Yai

Operating Hours:09 30 – 21 30 daily
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):Approx. typical pricing in a café.

Aye… … I do not know how to put this gently, so just ‘no’ would suffice. That is basically all I can say. Unless you want to buy chocolates home as gifts or even just for yourself, I would not come here. I do not know if the chocolates are nice, because they do not give out samples, but J did bought like a couple back.

Her review and direct quote? ‘It’s not a must buy. Just buy for fun… …to show your support and presence there (Khao Yai).’

Well… ok my darlings, if you want to show your support for local products, then I guess, go right ahead.

We did not dine at the restaurant, just at the café, and had ordered 2 items off their menu. I suggested ordering a third item afterward, not because they were good, but because I wanted to wash down the previously 2 items ordered. It was just not to our taste.

I would say if you love After You Dessert Café in Bangkok, then just stick with that. You can skip this.

Day 3 Highlights: PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

Operating Hours:Sunday – Thursday (08 00 – 20 00)
Friday & Saturday (08 00 – 22 00)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1.5 – 2 hour

(if you are dining at the restaurant, then of course it would be longer)
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Other than the sunflower field which I was excited for, visit to this winery was also one of the top things I was looking forward to! I have never been on a vineyard, so I guess new experiences are always refreshing!

PB Valley Estate is the largest vineyard in Khao Yai. The Estate has wine tasting tours that includes a professional guided tour around the vineyard and the explanation about the various wines and grapes.

Guided tours are conducted 6 times daily, and it is about 70 minutes. For more details and booking, click here.

J and I on a working tractor, mind you. Haha!

We took the latest tour slot. I would suggest for that as it is much cooling in the evening and fewer people as well. You could also end off your tour with dinner at the restaurant!

TIPS?!

1If you want to visit the sunflower field, then December is the golden month for you. We went during the first week of December. The flowers bloomed perfectly and plentiful! As we were driving around Khao Yai, we saw many other smaller sunflower patches, so it was not only at Rai Maneesorn.
2We did not fully explore Khao Yai National Park, as it is pretty huge. However, there is one sight I thought it would be nice if we had gone to. Khao Chiew Viewpoint (Pha Diew Dai Cliff). Maybe you can check that out and see it for yourself! 😀

IGTV

I would say this mini road trip to Khao Yai was quite an all rounded one; covering some waterfall attractions, a sunflower field and a vineyard. If you are looking for a sweet escape from Bangkok’s city buzz, then Khao Yai is definitely a scene for you!

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

For now, let’s just stay home until it is safe.

Dee

Route: Parking Lot –> Swing Bridge –> Series of Mini Waterfalls –> Elevated Track –> Lake Marian –> And Back
Total Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Average Walk Time:

~ 4 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots, light snacking & a quick swim)

Seasonal Restrictions: Do not walk around the edge of the lake during the snow/avalanche season (winter and spring)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there? 

Highlights and Views 

TIPS? 

Well, I reckoned New Zealand needs no prelude whatsoever. Everything about it just never stops to inspire me in a frivolous way. And it was probably the first time I jaunted through trails and treks every other day for a month until my feet got sore and blistered. I would imagine this to be otherwise for anyone else. So yes, a weakling I was?

But it was all worth every drop of sweat to climb. It was all worth every minor or major slipups along the way. And it was all definitely worth (at times) sacrificing sleep for the enthralling views that time sleeping will never give. Lake Marian is imperatively impeccable, and I would recommend this trek to anyone, that is without a doubt!

The closest town to Lake Marian would be Te Anau. It is also the closest town to the famous Milford Sound attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Anau is a quiet, humble little town, with quite a selection of restaurants and smaller eateries. A nice place to be away from the buzz of city life, and still be able to enjoy amenities of excellent food, accommodation and at the same time satisfying those basic grocery needs.

 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Lake Marian, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. A straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

Just remember to make a turn right soon after Pop’s View lookout, onto Hollyford Track when you see the signage ‘Lower Hollyford’, otherwise, you would be on your merry way to Milford Sound, which is also not a bad option. Haha!

Drive down about 1 km on the unsealed gravelled Hollyford Track a.k.a Hollyford Road and you would reach the Lake Marian carpark!

 

Highlights and Views

1. Swing Bridge

The start of the trek to Lake Marian requires the crossing of the swing bridge which hovered above the Hollyford River (Whakatapu Ka Tuku). The river was in its clear refreshing blue and the sounds of the waters crashing against the rocks as it rushed down with gravity was invigoratingly welcoming! What an excellent way to start a morning! 😀

I recalled I was so tempted to go down to douse my hands in the refreshing and presumably cold waters. But as I made my way down gingerly across large rocks and boulders to the edge of the river and I squatted down, I realised my hands were too short to reach into the waters. Haha! Yup, woes of having short hands.

Looking to both of my sides along the river, it seemed very unlikely I could reach down into the waters unless I sat down on the rocks or something like that. Hence, I decided to give it a miss and head back up, for the waters at Lake Marian would definitely be as refreshing too right? And definitely easier to reach in…

2. Series of Mini Waterfalls

About a short 10 minute stroll on the boardwalk past the swing bridge was the next highlight of the Lake Marian trek: the exhilarating rush of the waterfalls. It was quite thunderously deafening when we walked deeper into the track; closer to the top of the waterfall. With the morning sun beaming all so strongly, the waters that flowed down glistened crystal white. Which really was not a bad sight for a morning!

There were some people who visited this place just for the mini waterfalls. Because it was a relatively easy paved short walk, some would decide to have a nice easy morning stroll and would give the slightly more advance tramping track a miss. That could be an option, but if you are more able-bodied, then continue on the elevated track to Lake Marian ‘cause the reward at the end is just mind-blowing! Period!

3. Elevated Track (through the forest)

After the end of the series of mini waterfalls, where the initial road underfoot was still well-paved and easy to walk on, came the start of the elevated tracks to Lake Marian! Which by then, consists of gravel roads, steep inclined and at times, wet and muddy pathways. From here on, it was approximately 1.5 hours to the beautiful Lake Marian as stated on the signage.

So into the native forest we ascended, starting with steady inclines up on uneven rocky road. It was still relatively manageable at the start, with very obvious reasons. It was enjoyable and exciting to wander through the amazing forest. Even the sweat and the panting from climbing up against gravity were all part of the package of adventure! Totally enrapturing!

But the climb soon became a little relentless as time passed. However, thinking about it now just made me missed manoeuvring through the dense forest like some explorer on a mission; a mission to find the hidden gem of a lake that is! Haha! 😀

After trotting through the rocky, and at times narrow paths, feeling all sweltering, we arrived to an area of openness. There weren’t any shelter from the sun by the trees like before, and if one would just have a quick glance at the entire peripheral view on its own without being meticulous in the details, one would totally missed out the orange beacon (which we all know is there for the very reason to guide trekkers in the right direction)!

And we decided, of all places, to take respite in an unshaded open piece of area surrounded by trees and huge logs. Hhhmmm… And the idea of respite is to dance silly as if the trees were the compelled audiences there to stay. Haha… You can see the embarrassing footage in the video linked below.

Click for Lake Marian video!

Following the orange beacon prudently along, we were on our merry way back into the forest under the cool shelter from the sun. But from this section on, the path was definitely way more exciting to manoeuvre through. Much more narrower pave, and even at times having to balance on thick tree trunks and all. I imperatively enjoyed my climb for this particular trek during my whole stay in the South Island of New Zealand. I found the zeal and passion just moving through the forest. Yes, it was tiring, but I found the joy in it. I felt so alive and just plain satisfied. I really don’t know how else to explain this feeling but it was pure simple happiness! 😀

I recalled we did asked other trekkers who were descending back from the lake, how much more distance we had to cover. And the answers to that were always, “Oh yeah yeah, soon, very soon.” And after a while, we figured, “… soon, very soon.” was but a mere sentence. Totally inaccurate. Well in their defence, probably the distance was short, but maybe we were already quite worn out that “… soon, very soon.” seemed “… far, all so very far.” Haha!

We just had to ramble through and press forward!

So trust me when I say that these huge pieces of logs that you have to cross over, is a pretty good indicator that the end is near. The end to eternal ethereal beauty of Lake Marian was just so close within our reach. Honest!

4. Lake Marian

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glacial action. This lake lies above the bush line and is surrounded by the amazing Darren Mountains. The Lake Marian region probably provides the most enticing setting of a hidden gem in the Fiordland National Park region. Perfect for photographers!

Albeit jaded, the breeze from the lake just doused the tiredness and rekindled a whole new feeling of enthusiasm and glow! When we first saw the sight of Lake Marian, we were awestricken. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

I needed a moment to soak in the wondrous beauty of it all. The distant partially white snow-capped Darren Mountains as backdrop and the undisturbed clear waters were just in a perfect cosmos. It was really impressive how incredible Mother Nature was. And time and again, she never failed to amaze and blow me away. It was like a wallpaper that I would only imagined and dreamed about, but there it was, sprawled right in front of me in my peripheral vision, unimpeded!

The hours of climb through the forest and all the pushing through was all worth it. Worth it to be in the moment as such, and to have that memory to have at least seen and felt it just once was bliss enough.

We spend quite a long time by the alpine lake. Having our packed lunch of sandwiches, admiring the beauty, and of course taking loads of photos. Haha!

It was so beautiful, we were quite reluctant to leave. But we did have quite a journey back to the parking lot. Alas, we had to leave to make up for the time before it turned dark.

 

TIPS?

(a) Start the trek EARLY

Before embarking on this Lake Marian trek, I already knew we had to start the trek early. But because we were beat out from previous nights, we decided that we would still get up early, but… just not so much earlier.

Hence, we missed out on the magnificent reflections of the Darren Mountains on the lake waters; which could be seen when the weather was calm making the waters in Lake Marian very much still. And that usually happened at dawn when the air would be crisp and the breeze at its minimal. When we were heading towards the lake, we stopped to have a conversation with a couple from Israel. They headed to the lake extremely early in the wee morning, and were already on their way back. We saw some of the shots they took of Lake Marian early in the morning, they were GORGEOUS! Words cannot describe.

So if you want to have amazing reflection shots of the mountains imprinted on the lake waters, a good timing to arrive at Lake Marian would be around 8 – 9 am? That was according to the Israeli couple.

If not, Lake Marian is still a gorgeous sight in the late morning early afternoon; which was what we got to see. Still ain’t half bad you know. 😀

(b) Go for a SWIM

Minor regrets in life comes when you thought you were all packed for a trek, but didn’t occur to you that you could actually bring your swimming gear. I didn’t know swimming was allowed at Lake Marian, well… apparently so it seemed. If I had a do over, I would make sure I pack my swimming essentials that’s for sure. I am positively sure the waters would be so refreshing after a long arduous climb up. Totally energising!

But because we were not prepared for a swim, we only doused our hands in the waters, which was extremely chilly!

(c) Beacon of SAFETY

The start of the tramping track on this Lake Marian trek would be after the series of mini waterfalls. The pathway started to get more uneven underfoot and the route was not at all straightforward. Hence, it would definitely be advisable that one should be of moderate to good level of fitness and also have a certain level of navigation and survival skills.

Getting to Lake Marian was still somewhat manageable. We just had to find orange beacon arrows mounted on tree trunks, or any form of track markers or indicators. Of which, some were very obviously spotted, while others required a wee bit more eye for details. But either way, it was still alright, coming from someone who really do not have much jungle experience.

However, on the way back, we had probably missed a beacon and sort of side tracked a little. The pathway did not seemed at all crossable. Hence, in such situation it would definitely be wise to trust your gut, retract your steps and find the orange beacon or any indicator that you might have missed, sometimes it could be a red ribbon or something like that.

Always remember to be safe. If you don’t feel that it is right, even the slightest bit, to move forward… don’t. Trust yourself.

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawbai, a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, placed Lake Marian Track to be in the ‘Advanced: Tramping track’ category.

In New Zealand, tracks that are listed in this government agency website, are placed in one of six categories. And to be placed under ‘Advanced: Tramping track’, indicates that the Lake Marian Track is considered to be the second most demanding track, with ‘Expert: Route’ being the most challenging one.

Click for more information about the six walking track categories.

Hence, it is always wise to stay safe and be mindful of the surroundings!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money! And I do hope to conquer more treks in the future.

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee