LIFE LESSONS FROM TRAVELLING THE WORLD PART 4: The highlights of my trip

Ayahuasca

Without a doubt Ayahuasca was the highlight of my trip. Not only was it the best thing on my trip, it was better than everything else I did put together. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

3 Ayahuasca Shamans representing earth, water and fire before a private ceremony in Iquitos, Peru

3 Ayahuasca Shamans representing earth, water and fire before a private ceremony in Iquitos, Peru

It’s impossible to describe what an Ayahuasca experience is like to someone who has never done it before. I don’t say this to be vague, secretive or mysterious, but because it’s true.

It’s like trying to describe sight to someone who cannot see, or thought to someone who cannot think. Nothing can prepare you for what you’re about to experience because it’s like nothing else you have ever experienced.

How would I describe Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is something Alien, Magical, Out of this world. It is an EXTREMELY POWERFUL Healer/Teacher, that works with you on an energetic level, to open your eyes, and open your mind, and to allow you to see, perceive, and feel things, that you cannot ordinarily.

Ayahuasca is seriously one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made in my lifetime.

Nothing can compare to Ayahuasca. Not drugs. Not sex. Nor orgasms. Not even travelling the world. Most of the greatest experiences and life lessons of my life didn’t come through travelling the world, they came through Ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is AMAZING. Ayahuasca is INCREDIBLE. Ayahuasca is REAL MAGIC.

 Ayahuasca tastes absolutely disgusting and makes you vomit and poop!

Ayahuasca looks gross, tastes disgusting and it will make you vomit and poop but it will also change your life for the better

San Pedro

San Pedro

My 1st day drinking San Pedro in Cusco, Peru with Roberto a local Shaman

San Pedro was my introduction to psychedelics and plant medicines. I first drank it back in early 2014 and have had it about 15 times since then. It opens you up emotionally and energetically and it allows you to connect with people in a very authentic and real way – heart to heart. It also allows you to perceive things you can’t ordinarily about yourself, other people, animals, trees and nature.

I’ve had some great times on San Pedro and for some reason I can’t stop smiling and laughing when I have it. I honestly don’t think I could stop smiling if my life depended on it. I’ve often come home with my cheeks aching after having an ear to ear grin on my face all day. Sometimes it even makes me a little self-conscious that I’m smiling so much. I can imagine it coming across as cocky or smug to someone who didn’t know me and having them ask me “What are you laughing/smiling at?” “What’s so funny?”

San Pedro makes for a great day with friends out in nature

Whilst Ayahuasca and San Pedro are both psychedelic plant medicines they’re both very different.

Ayahuasca San Pedro
Drunk inside Drunk outside
Drunk at night Drunk during the day
Dieting essential No dieting needed
You will vomit/poop You won’t vomit/poop
Lots of visions Generally no visions
Lasts for 4 hours Lasts for 8-12 hours
Need a Shaman Don’t need a Shaman
Extremely powerful and often overwhelming and scary Generally gentler and softer

Personally I prefer Ayahuasca because it’s more visionary and I get more from it. I do like San Pedro though.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia: The photo’s just don’t capture the magic!

The Sagrada Familia

Until I had seen the Sagrada Familia I don’t think I had ever been WOWed by a church before but this thing is AMAZING to behold up close. This was my friends favorite place on the trip. Construction first began in 1882 and won’t be complete until 2026 (A 144-year project). Entry is €29 Euro

The Sagrada Familia

It’s like a church made for Batman.

Montserrat, Barcelona

Montserrat, Spain

If you’re in Barcelona take a day trip out to Montserrat. A one hour return train ride only costs $20 USD. Once you’re there you take the yellow cable car on the left up to the monastery on the right whilst the attendant makes jokes about the cable snapping and everyone falling to their deaths the entire way up.

The Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China: A great way to spend a day if you’re in Beijing.

Great Wall of China

I recommend doing the Great Wall if you should ever go to China, but beware, it’s not an easy walk – it’s absolutely exhausting. I had imagined it to be flatter than it was, however the section that I was in (Badaling) was extremely steep and not flat at all. It felt much more like climbing than walking, and instead of being flat it was mostly uphill and downhill. Still it’s a great way to get some exercise and it’s a part of history: 2600 years old, 13,170 miles/21,196 km long. Entry is only $6.50 USD.

The Forbidden City, Beijing

Guard outside the Forbidden City in Beijing

Guard outside the Forbidden City in Beijing

The Forbidden City is GIGANTIC. It’s the largest ancient palace in the world and is so BIG you can’t capture it in a photo. This is 1/ZILLIONTH of the size of it and represents about an atoms worth. It was built in 1420 and has 90 palaces and courtyards, 980 buildings and 9,999 rooms. This was my favorite place in Beijing. Entry fee is $8 USD.

The Vatican

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica at Vatican City – The home of Pope Francis and the smallest country in the world (Just 0.2 square miles)

When I was in Rome I made it a priority to go to the Vatican and see the Pope even though I’m not Catholic.

Anyone can do this as he has a public showing every Wednesday morning at 10.30am. Even though I arrived 2 hours early around 8.30am I was still seated about a million rows back so I could only see him from a far.

At the Vatican with 50, 000+ people as Pope Francis arrives

At the Vatican arrive along with 50, 000+ screaming school kids, families and other people from around the world. It felt like being at some kind of rock concert. As soon as Pope Francis arrived everyone starts chanting “Papa Francisco!” 

At the Vatican with 50, 000+ people as Pope Francis arrives

The closest I could get to Pope Francis aka “Papa Francisco” for a photo as he rode around on his Pope-mobile. Everyone wanted one. 

The Pope is a HUGE celebrity in Rome. People go crazy and lose their minds when they see him. There is merchandise and propaganda promoting him everywhere. He’s on calendars, postcards, magazines, billboards, t-shirts – you name it.

I’m glad I went to the Vatican. It made for a fun Wednesday morning and was quite a memorable experience.

Michelangelo’s David  

Michelangelo’s David

Michelangelo’s incredible masterpiece David in Florence, Italy. It’s 17 feet tall – approximately 3X the size of the average man. Michelangelo started sculpting David in 1501 and completed it 3 years later in 1504. Even now 515 years later it looks awesome.

Not many things live up to the hype but Michelangelo’s David did. This is something the photos don’t do justice to. I think the Mona Lisa is overrated. David definitely isn’t.

The lost city of Petra

Petra

The Lost City of Petra – Built in 312 BCE. One of the 7 wonders of the world. I took a day trip here from Sharm el Sheik in Egypt which cost $127 USD.

Jordan, Petra

The Lost City of Petra as seen in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.

The Lost City of Petra

It’s fun to look around and explore for a day

Going on Safari at Kruger National Park in South Africa

 Safari for 5 nights at Kruger National Park in South Africa

Lioness having a nice stretch after a good snooze. 

One of my favorite things in South Africa was spending 5 nights on Safari at Kruger National Park. Everyone goes on Safari to see “The BIG 5”: Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalo and Rhino. I saw them all as well as Cheetahs, Zebras, Giraffes, Hyenas, Hippos and Crocs.

 Safari for 5 nights at Kruger National Park in South Africa

Going on Safari is exciting because you never know what you’re going to see.

 Safari for 5 nights at Kruger National Park in South Africa

 Safari for 5 nights at Kruger National Park in South Africa

Cross the fence – I dare you!

The lodges you stay at on Safari are very nice but definitely pricey. Expect to pay anywhere from $600-$1000+ USD per night which includes accommodation, food and 2 guided tours per day both morning and night.

If you have the money I say go on Safari in Africa. But know that it can be a bit hit and miss because you never know what you might see. It can be awesome one day and boring the next. Sometimes the animals are out and sometimes they’re not.

If I went on Safari again, I wouldn’t go back to Kruger National Park (because I’ve already done it) but to Tanzania as many people have told me that Tanzania is the number #1 place in the world to do a Safari and online ratings and reviews seem to confirm it.

Cage Diving with Great White Sharks in Cape Town

Cage diving with Great White Sharks

You talking to me?

Whilst I was in Cape Town I decided to face my fears, go outside my comfort zone and go cage diving with Great White Sharks.

I woke up that morning feeling OK, but on the 2 hour drive over to Gansbaai in Cape Town, I felt increasingly anxious as I didn’t know what to expect when I got there or how I’d go when I got underwater and went face to face with one!

I went out on a beautiful sunny Monday afternoon around 2pm with a small group of about 10 people and after a quick briefing I started to relax and I thought to myself “this isn’t going to be a big deal”, but that was until we actually got out into the water and I immediately saw a massive Great White literally the length of the boat, circling the boat, along with 2 other slightly smaller Great Whites (maybe 12-15 feet).

My initial thought was: Is this a f@#king joke??? I’m not getting in the water with those f@#king things!

Of course I did but I was very careful when stepping from the boat into the cage not to accidentally slip into the water.

The guides on the boat would lure the Great Whites over to the cage with bait and then we would duck down underwater into the cage as they swam towards us eye to eye, often just a couple of meters away. It was a definite thrill and was quite unnerving at times because you knew that the cage was the only thing standing between you and death!

I’ve read people online calling cage diving with Great Whites a ‘tourist trap’ and whilst I’ve had my fair share of tourist traps I would disagree.

Your experience all depends on a variety of things:

  • The weather
  • Whether or not the sharks are out that day
  • Your location in the cage
  • The tour operator you go with

I dived twice within a period of a few hours that day, the first time I was in the centre of the cage (the cage can hold 5 people at a time and I was in the middle) and in my first dive I thought “this isn’t much more than an aquarium experience. It’s OK, but it’s definitely not that great”.

The 2nd time however I was better positioned on the far left hand side of the cage and I had the Great Whites coming right up to me. That was awesome and my experience immediately went from being a 3/10 to a 10/10 just from switching up my position in the cage.

Was I scared? Yes.

Am I glad I did it? Yes.

Would I do it again? Yes.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Am I always scared the first time I do anything new? Yes.

Am I always glad that I did it afterwards? Yes.

Great southern Whales

I also went Whale Watching the next day. It was OK but mostly boring. These are Southern Right Whales. It’s a much different experience being just a few meters away from a Great White Shark in the water compared to Whale watching on a boat from 20-30 feet away.

Great southern whales

Peekaboo

Grade 5 White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

I’d never been White Water rafting before and I decided what better time than when I was in Zimbabwe visiting Victoria Falls (the largest Waterfall in the world) where you can do grade 5 white water rafting down below on the Zambezi river.

Grade 5 White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

The day started early around 8am. We met with our group, had a quick briefing, and took off.

Grade 5 White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

It started off so calm and peaceful like this

Grade 5 White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

But soon it was like this

Grade 5 White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

Then this

White Water rafting in the right location is awesome but something they don’t tell you when you book is that after the day is finished you have to carry your equipment (raft, oars, life jacket etc.) back up the hill and it’s almost a vertical climb. Ordinarily it would be exhausting, but after you’ve been rafting all day, it nearly kills you. Seriously, climbing that hill was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

The Dead Sea, Israel   

The Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea in Israel at the lowest point on earth (423 metres below sea level). It’s 8X saltier than the Ocean and impossible to sink in. PS: Don’t shave 2 days before visiting and don’t fart in it because it’ll hurt. (Not that I did or had planned to)

Victoria Falls vs Iguazu Falls

Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border

Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border is the largest waterfall in the world (100 meters high/1700 meters wide). It drops 500 million cubic meters of water per minute.

Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border

You can even go for a walk to the top of the waterfall 

Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border

And swim a few hundred meters against the current and dive into a little spot called the “Devils Pool”. PS: We’re like 2 meters away from the edge and a 100-meter drop. How is our guide so damn relaxed hanging off the side?

Some tourists I met at Victoria Falls weren’t that impressed with it and told me that Iguazu Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil was much better to look at. I decided to take their advice and check it out for myself when I got to Brazil and after visiting both I agree with them.

Iguazu Falls > Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is bigger – but Iguazu Falls is better. It not only looks better but it has a much happier vibe and is setup better for tourists to see. 

Iguazu falls

Probably the ‘best’ waterfall in the world – Iguazu Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil

These were some of the highlights of my 3 year around the world trip…

There were many more and I’ll be speaking about those in upcoming articles.

This is part 4 of a 9 part series: Life Lessons from Traveling the World

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 1: Don’t believe the hype

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 2: Wherever you go, there you are

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 3: Things that surprised me

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 5: My favorite travel destinations

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 6: My least favorite travel destinations

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 7: Travel tips – Part 1

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 8: Travel tips – Part 2

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 9: Why you should travel the world

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