Whenever our team are travelling around South America we always make sure that Montanita in Ecuador is part of our plans – in fact it’s usually somewhere we stop off for an extended period of time to kick back, relax and recharge.

But what’s the draw of Montanita, what keeps us coming back for more?

Well here’s why we’ve fallen in love with this bustling costal town and why we think you will too…

 

The Locals

The Ecuadorians are a massively friendly nationality and Montanita is no exception. Whenever we return we’re greeted by familiar faces who welcome us in like family and there’s no shortage of new people to meet and get to know.

Whether you end up staying there a week, a month or even longer you’ll soon find yourself part of the community – enjoying home cooked meals with local families and chatting to everyone you cross paths with.

And of course if you really want to get to know the locals there’s no better way to start than to join one of our Montanita Homestay Experiences!

 

The Surf

Without a doubt the biggest draw of Montanita is the beach…or more importantly the surf!

For the beginners there are plenty of spots to learn (surf lessons are included in all our Learn Spanish in Montanita Experiences) and for the more experienced wave riders spots like the famous “Point” offer up some amazing right handers!

Whether you surf or not, the culture of the sport is engrained in the towns vibe and we’re sure you’ll spend a few evenings relaxing with a sunset beer on the beach watching the locals do their thing!

 

The Party

If you want to let off some steam after a hard day on the beach Montanita has a really fun nightlife that you’ll quickly get caught up in!

Whether it’s a quite beer on the beach or some cocktails and dancing in the street in the famous “Cocktail Alley” you’ll find plenty of people who want to salsa dance the nights away – both locals and other travellers…so get involved!

 

The Food

When it comes to food Montanita has every taste catered for – quite literally! If you want to get stuck into the local dishes you’ll find a vast array of plantain and fish on offer, keep an eye out for the bargain lunch time meal deals dotted around the town and also the range of street vendors serving up all manner of tasty treats.

And if you have a craving for something a bit more familiar there are also spots  that offer pizza, pasta and burgers too – not that you’ll really fancy that too much!

 

If you’re heading to Montanita or Ecuador anytime soon check out our range of Learn Spanish Experiences – including homestays and travelling classroom options!

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Have you visited Montanita yet?

How did you find it?

New Zealand is an incredible place to travel and backpack and there are heaps of things to see and do across both the North and South Islands.

So much so that it can’t be tough to figure out how to fit everything into your New Zealand trip in a single go…unless you’re on a working holiday visa of course!

Luckily our team have spent a solid amount of time enjoying the land of the long white cloud, experiencing everything it has to offer and enjoying some amazing Kiwi hospitality.

No matter if you’re cruising around on the Kiwi Experience or a Stray New Zealand pass you’ll be spoilt for things to fill your day with, so here are some of our top to dos across the North and South Islands to get your NZ bucket list started…

 

North Island

From the cityscapes of Auckland to the pumping surf of Raglan. The smell of Rotorua (seriously it’s geothermal vents give it a distinct odour!) to the wind blown capital of Wellington – the North Island of New Zealand is often overlooked in favour of the South, yet it has so much to offer!

  • Kayak around Cathedral Cove
  • Visit Hobbiton
  • Go Black Water Rafting in Waitomo
  • Surf in Raglan
  • Explore the Bay of Islands
  • Immerse yourself in traditional culture on a Maori Homestay
  • Check out the geo thermal hotspots of Rotorua
  • Skydive in Taupo
  • Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Spend a day in Te Papa Museum, Wellington

 

South Island

The South Island is a firm backpacker favourite – with the adrenaline hotspot of Queenstown being the hub of many travellers stays in New Zealand. If you want to jump out of planes, hike through ice caves or get back to nature the South Island is somewhere you’ll always come back wanting more from…

  • Hike on Franz Josef Glacier
  • Swim with wild dolphins in Kaikoura
  • Cruise around Milford or Doubtful Sound
  • Bungee jump, skydive or whitewater raft in Queenstown
  • Tackle a snow season in the mountains
  • Stare into the turquoise goodness of Lake Tekapo
  • Get back to nature in Abel Tasman National Park

 

Have you travelled around New Zealand? Anything you’d add to the list?

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South East Asia is an epic spot for a stand alone gap year or as the start or a full around the world trip – but why does everyone love it so much?

So we asked our team of world nomads and blog ambassadors to put together some of their top reasons for travelling South East Asia…

Cheap Living

Without a doubt one of the biggest draws of backpacking South East Asia is the cost…or lack of!

Countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia come with a massively budget friendly price tag so you’ll get some serious bang for you buck, especially compared to more expensive destinations like New Zealand or Australia…although they’re totally worth the extra money!

But when you can grab a hostel from £3 a night, a meal for £1 and an ice cold beer on the beach from 50p it’s not hard to see why a lot of travellers opt to spend an extending period of time in this part of the world!

 

Heaps To Do

And with all that extra cash to splash you wont be short of experience in indulge in either!

Whether you’re exploring the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, learning to scuba dive in Thailand, island hopping in Indonesia or learning to surf in The Philippines there’s more than enough to keep you busy no matter what you love doing!

 

Easy To Explore

Despite what you might think South East Asia is pretty easy to travel around!

Overnight bus routes, trains, boats – they’re easily booked on the ground if you like to keep things a bit more spontaneous or some of the most popular routes form some of the Stray Asia Bus Passes – the ideal option for those travelling solo or new to the world of backpacking.

Whichever style you choose though you’ll be able to bounce around and make the most of what these amazing countries have t0 offer.

 

Epic Food

Even the thought of Asian cuisine gets our taste buds going!

Even if you’re not a massive foodie you can’t help but be stoked on the dishes on offer when you’re travelling around South East Asia and it’l bring a whole new dimension to your gap year!

Indulge in some epic street food in Thailand, gorge on fresh seafood in The Phillipines, eat deep fried tarantula in Cambodia, try some incredible curries in Malaysia…there menus are packed full of tasty treats!

…just save room for desert!

 

Incredible Cultures

And of course on the best biggest things people experience when hitting up Asia on their gap year is a culture shock – it’s one of the best things about travelling the world!

Asia has some amazing cultures and history to explore. From temples (seriously you’ll visit hundreds of temples!) to floating markets. Dark and troubled history to the friendly monks and smiling faces of the locals you’ll meet there’s so much to learn and embrace.

Soak it all up with an open mind, get involved in the customs and culture and make the most of this magical area of the world.

 

Have you visited South East Asia? What did you love about it?

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular backpacker and travelling routes in the world, and with good reasons – there’s so many epic places to see and stuff to do!

Our team have spent heaps of time exploring it over the last few years so we thought we’d share our favourite stop off along Australia…it was tough narrowing it down to 5 though!

 

Sydney

Despite not actually being the capital of Australia Sydney is probably the most iconic city in the country (I’m sure our Aussie buddies will have something to say about that!) and alongside the bustling city life theres plenty to keep you busy as a traveller.

Whether you go surfing or chill out on the infamous Bondi Beach, meet some of the locals at Toronga Zoo or just stop over for a quick selfie in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House you’ll be glad you spent at least a few days there. As a major city there’s loads of cool stuff going on year round – whether its Australia Day Celebrations, Vivid Sydney Festival, or even Mardi Gras there’s something for every taste!

 

surf instructor training coach surf camp australia spot x mojo surf acdemy gap year-16Byron Bay

Without a doubt this is our personal favourite and Byron Bay is somewhere many of the EGY team head back to whenever they can! Learn to Surf (or even surf trip up from Sydney to Byron Bay on our surf trip experience!) scuba dive at the incredible Julian Rocks, take a stroll up to the lighthouse or relax on the beach and do some whale watching.

This laid back hippy town runs at a slower pace of life, so go barefoot, buy some anklets and spend some serious time there!

 

Fraser Island

As a big Australia bucket list this is probably our favourite trip in Australia. Load up a 4 x 4 with some good friends, some campaign equipment and some cold beers and head over to the biggest sand island in the world.

Cruising around through jungles, along the beaches and some crazy beautiful lakes make this tag along camping trip and incredible experience. Chilling around a fire under the epic starscape will no doubt be a highlight of your East Coast experience.

 

The Whitsunday Islands

Along with Fraser Islands The Whitsunday Islands are another huge to do along the coast.

Jump on a boat and cruise around the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef – snorkelling, sunbathing and cramming your camera full of incredible pictures, including White Haven Beach – famous for having some of the purest sand in the world!

 

Cairns

oz experience travel pass bus sydney cairns melbourne east coast australia gap yearUsually the town where you’ll start or finish your East Coast Adventure Cairns is famous as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and if you want to learn to scuba dive this is an incredible spot to do it.

If diving isn’t your thing you can still head out on a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef and get in amongst the incredible marine life that call this natural wonder home.

If you’re not diving there’s heaps of nightlife, bungee jumping and skydiving to be done, or if you’d rather chill out the man made lagoon pools are a greta place to mingle with other travellers, cook up a BBQ and enjoy the heat of tropical North Queensland.

 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to travelling in Australia so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to tackle the East Coast! 

If you’re not sure how you’ll be making your way up or down check out our Greyhound Bus Passes, Oz Experience Passes and Loka Travel Passes, you cant go wrong with any of them!

“I owned the world that hour as I rode over it. Free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds, but how inseparably I was bound to them.”

Charles Lindbergh

Getting into skydiving was not really this unreachable goal of mine – it all kind of happened organically.

I have always been obsessed with movement, with flight, with leaping from things and with falling. After trying skydiving when I was 20, I knew that one day I would fly.

It took 9 years for me to revisit the idea when I saw a man leap from a cliff I was rock climbing on in Tonsai, Thailand.

It was called BASE jumping.

I had only seen it in YouTube videos, and on GoPro commericals. But after repelling down the wall, and meeting this group of jumpers…. my life was changed. They were just like me – adventurers, travellers, lovers of life and new experiences, the only difference was…instead of watching other people take the risks, they decided to do it themselves.

 

So I decided I would too.

learning to skydive epic gap year travel

 

And I did. I saved all my money during the winter that year and headed straight to Utah to do my skydiving certification and it was the best decision I ever made.

The people that taught me do not even realize how grateful I am to them. They gave me wings, they gave me a new life. They gave me freedom. I think that people that teach in this industry are the most important to the sport.

They not only give people the tools, and advice that they will need to save thier own lives but they give them the strength and perspective to ignite personal strength within themselves that goes on unlit for so long.

Human flight is achievable and people are out there doing it everyday.

They risk their lives every time they take the leap, but it doesn’t matter because with every fall, they get a tighter grasp on the true beauty of humanity. We are a small small small part of this world, a very small part.  And with every leap we are more and more humbled.

 

learning to skydive epic gap year travel

 

There is nothing like the feeling of free-fall – everything stops for 60 seconds.

Your mind is in a state of tranquilly that is unreachable when your feet are on the ground.

 

There among the clouds, and the birds, and the horizon….I have never felt more at home. I feel comfortable there, the fear has left me….and in it’s place is the most euphoric peaceful sensation in my heart, and in my soul.

 

That is why I jump.

That is the only reason I will do it again, and again and again.

I am small up there, but I am small down here.

The difference is up there, there are no deceptions.

Everything is just as it seems to be.

 

 

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echo giesel my creative drug travel blogger epic gap year

This is a guest post by blog ambassador Giesel Widmer of My Creative Drug

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