LE ISOLE UROS SUL LAGO TITICACA

In queste isole c’è pace e serenità, al tramonto l’atmosfera è piena di colori e misticismo.

isole galleggianti sul lago titicaca in perù
lago Titicaca – isole Uros – Luca Oliveri

IL LAGO TITICACA

Al confine tra Bolivia e Perù, il lago Titicaca, a 3812 m sul livello del mare, è il “lago navigabile più alto del mondo” e il più largo in tutto il Sud America. È considerato il luogo di origine degli Inca ed è avvolto da misticismo ed energia. È idealmente il secondo chakra della terra. Ancora oggi, prima di iniziare una navigazione anche breve, viene fatta un’offerta donando alcune foglie di coca alle acque del lago. Si parla di città sommerse e numerosi ritrovamenti di reperti fatti da archeologi subacquei.

LE ISOLE UROS

Le isole galleggianti degli Uros sono isolotti artificiali, attualmente se ne contano 125, costruiti con la totora, una pianta acquatica che cresce spontaneamente sulle rive del Lago Titicaca. Queste isole sono dette “fluttuanti” e possono quindi spostarsi sul lago. Vengono ancorate quando devono rimanere ferme.

Queste isole arrivano ad uno spessore di circa 3 metri. Vengono costruite a partire dalle radici della totora che funzionano da base. Sopra questi blocchi si posizionano i rami della totora stessa che pavimentano il terreno. Con la totora si costruiscono anche le abitazioni e le barche. Un’isola è abitabile per circa 80 anni, dopodiché affonda.

UROS SAMARANA UTA LODGE

Veniamo accolti al porticciolo da Cesar, il padrone del lodge che assieme alla moglie non ci faranno mancare nulla per tutto il soggiorno. Carichiamo i bagagli sulla barca e adagio solchiamo le acque tranquille del lago Titicaca per circa 15 minuti prima di approdare ad Uta Samarana. Ci accoglie il figlioletto di Cesar che da bravo ometto si affanna per tirare la fune della barca e cercare di affrancarla all’isola e permetterci così di sbarcare.

L’affanno dei 3812 metri si fa sentire, non siamo ancora acclimatati. Anche spostare la valigia o fare i 3 scalini per arrivare alla sala da pranzo è faticoso. Ci vorrà qualche giorno e noi dobbiamo acclimatarci in fretta perché non manca molto al trekking sull’Apu Ausangate dove supereremo i 5000 metri.

Sull’isola tutto scorre placidamente col tempo che, in qualche modo, si dilata e permette di prendersi una pausa dalla frenesia quotidiana. C’è tempo per rilassarsi al sole sul terrazzo della propria stanza abbandonati ai suoni della natura. Fino all’ora del tramonto, quando il cielo si incendia di un rosso intenso mentre le cose, le piante, gli animali, il lago stesso si stagliano come silhouette sull’orizzonte infuocato, fa caldo. Ma appena cala il sole diventa davvero freddo.

Ci mettiamo una felpa ed è ora di cena. Ore 19.30, Cesar ci serve dapprima una zuppa di quinoa bollente, poi il piatto principale nella sua variante vegetariana, così come gli abbiamo chiesto prima di arrivare e alla fine un dolce gustosissimo. Da bere purtroppo niente vino, unica vera pecca di tutta la cena, m delle tisane o il te dove possiamo infondere le solite e così comuni in tutto il Perù, foglie di coca essiccate. Prevengono il mal di montagna e qualche giorno dopo le avremmo sfruttate sull’Ausangate.

Quando rientriamo in stanza sono quasi le 20.30 e troviamo una stufa a gas già accesa per noi che riscalda il lodge. Prima di dormire c’è tempo per editare qualche fotografia e poi, spenta la stufa, ci fiondiamo sotto le calde e pesanti coperte.

ESCURSIONI

Il soggiorno prevede la possibilità di prendere parte durante il giorno e al tramonto ad escursioni per conoscere meglio la comunità Uros, usi e costumi. Quest’escursione è direi turistica e in parte mira a spingerti ad acquistare oggetti di artigianato locale per sostenere la comunità economicamente. Decidiamo comunque di acquistare una federa colorata per cuscini e alcune collanine perché era tutto davvero carino.

Lago Titicaca – Escursioni – Luca Oliveri

È quando arriva di nuovo il tramonto che Cesar e la moglie Lucy ci sorprendono portandoci in escursione in barca lungo le placide acque del lago Titicaca. I colori incendiano tutto, il rosa dapprima, il rosso poi rendono surreale l’atmosfera. Il relax è totale ed è una delle esperienze più intense che vivremo in tutto il Perù.

Lago Titicaca al tramonto – Luca Oliveri

3812 metri

Siamo davvero in alto e noi europei non siamo certi abituati a queste altitudini. Per fortuna nei 3 giorni in cui abbiamo soggiornato alle isole Uros ci siamo pian piano abituati, almeno un po’, e alla fine l’affanno che prima compariva anche per sforzi minimi è andato via via attenuandosi.

Sono molto felice di essere stato sul lago Titicaca, proprio qui che alcuni considerano sacro, altri un punto di passaggio di uno dei Chakra della Terra, altri solo il lago navigabile più in alto nel mondo.

Tramonto all’Uros Samarana Lodge – Lago Titicaca – Luca Oliveri

La Rainbow Mountain deserta

La più famosa montagna colorata del mondo è ora deserta. Non più folle di turisti o venditori ambulanti ma il solo epico, spettacolare paesaggio andino e questa vetta che assomiglia ad un arcobaleno

un ragazzo si gode la libertà della Rainbow Mountain
Rainbow Mountain – Luca Oliveri

La Rainbow Mountain tra Quispicanchi e Canchis

Contrasti tra le popolazioni locali sul diritto di accesso ai sentieri che conducono alla famosa Rainbow Mountain in Perù, tra la provincia di Quispicanchi e Canchis, hanno reso la montagna stranamente deserta.

Il monte Vinicunca

Il monte Vinicunca, o più comunemente Rainbow Mountain, è la più famosa montagna colorata del mondo tanto da essere stata, negli ultimi anni, letteralmente presa d’assalto dai turisti.

Situata tra le Ande peruviane, alla vertiginosa altezza di più di 5000 metri sul livello del mare, è tra le attrazioni più famose del Perù, seconda solo a Machu Picchu.

Come un arcobaleno di colori

L’aspetto simile ad un arcobaleno è dovuto al sedimento di vari minerali che sotto i raggi del sole colorano il terreno in strisce d’oro, di lavanda, turchesi e di varie altre sfumature.

La recente scoperta della Rainbow Mountain

Benché la sua esistenza fosse da sempre conosciuta ai locali che la considerano sacra, è solo recentemente che è stata scoperta e resa nota al mondo poiché, a causa dello scioglimento della neve sulla sua cima, si è rivelata in tutti i suoi colori ed inserita, così, dal National Geographic tra “i 100 luoghi da visitare almeno una volta nella vita”.

Così, i turisti che ogni giorno visitavano la Rainbow Mountain divennero quasi un migliaio.

E se lo scenario era epico per la bellezza e particolarità del luogo, allo stesso modo la quantità di turisti, di venditori locali che con Alpaca ammaestrati, bancarelle piene zeppe di ponchi e ogni tipo di souvenir, l’avevano trasformata in un colorato bazar a cielo aperto.

Ecco come si presentava il sentiero di accesso alla Rainbow Mountain fino a poco tempo fa

Le faide tra le comunità locali hanno chiuso l’accesso al monte arcobaleno

In qualche modo la natura però fa il suo corso e da qualche settimana, a causa di una faida sul diritto di accesso alla cima tra le due comunità locali che abitano la zona, il sentiero che conduce alla vetta è stato chiuso dal governatore locale, almeno finché le due comunità non risolveranno i dissidi. E la Rainbow Mountain è tornata ad essere un solitario, bellissimo, spettacolo naturale senza più folle di turisti o venditori ambulanti.

È oggi possibile visitarla solo arrivando da un faticoso ed estremo trekking di più giorni che impegna lo spirito e mette a dura prova il corpo per le condizioni estreme a cui si è sottoposti ma il premio che si vince alla fine del percorso di circa 40km, dopo aver sfidato le rigide temperature notturne in tenda, è il poter godere di tanto spettacolo da soli. E la pace e il senso di contemplazione che si vive lassù fanno capire il perché i locali da secoli considerino quella cima, la montagna Vinicunca, sacra.

due ragazzi in primo piano e la Rainbow Mountain deserta
Ecco come si presenta oggi la Rainbow Mountain: deserta – Luca Oliveri

BEST HAWAIIAN BEACHES

Does Hawaii have the best beaches in the world?

Maui – Luca Oliveri

Thinking of Hawaii, each of us imagines breathtaking beaches and crystal clear sea. Although Hawaii is much more than beaches and beautiful sea, here is my list of the 4 most special and magical beaches that we can discover on a trip around Hawaiian islands.

Does Hawaii have the best beaches in the world?

RED SECRET BEACH – MAUI

Red secred beach – Maui – Luca Oliveri

Aloha mother Maui!

The little cove inside a cinder cone of the “secret red beach” is great for swimming and cliff-jumping but has no official trail to reach it. Reaching the steep, slippery slope to the beach requires wandering through a field at the end of a road before finding a homemade sign pointing the way.

We arrived at sunset and the show of mother Nature was undescribable, pink and red colors everywhere and the crispy water on my feet.

“MAYBE IT HAPPENS, MAYBE THE MAGIC HAPPENS!”

Here it happened! It wasn’t supposed to spend the night at this beach but the beach captured us. Sleeping under the stars again, after the previous night under the Haleakala sky, and waking up and share the breakfast is one of the most inspiring life experiences, in the same world full of colors and emotions of the previous evening.

You will feel the energetic footprint of the Earth.

BLACK SAND BEACH – BIG ISLAND

Black Sand Beach – Luca Oliveri – Big Island

The beach is split in two by the river coming out of the Waipio Valley, and depending on the amount of water it can be difficult to cross. It’s a dangerous place to go swimming especially during the winter months. I suggest you to spend lots of time here, this is an energetic beach.

It’s located at the end of the Waipio Valley. It is of awe-inspiring beauty, mostly wilderness interspersed with taro fields (Taro is a traditional Hawaiian staple food) and a couple of dozens of inhabitants. It was home to old Hawaiian kings. Waipio Valley is named after the river that runs through the valley (wai-piʻo means curved water in the Hawaiian language). The valley meets the ocean towards the north with a beautiful black sand beach that is cut in two by the river.

KALALAU BEACH – KAUAI

Kalalau Beach – Luca Oliveri – Kauai

Oi kau ka lau, E hana I ola Honua” Live your life while the sun is still shining: the wind behind, the ocean beyond, sometimes the rainbows above and mountains and cliffs and Nature next to you. Thank you for making me feel tiny, humble and inspired all at once.

When you “dive” into the Kalalau Beach, you find a surreal world. Many travelers believe that a place can leave an everlasting mark on your heart and soul. Like this beach does! Here is where the spectrum of emotions you’ll go through, when experiencing one more amazing sunset, makes you understand that once you’ve had it, you’ll always want it. Wait for it! You will discover, I hope, the most beautiful thing that my eyes have ever seen on Earth. The most peaceful, energetic, exciting place.

You can reach this beach only after a long multi-day trail, the “Kalalau Trail”.

Overwhelmed by the perfection of this beach, embedded in an ancient casket, bordered by sacred peaks. The glow of the sun’s rays, shortly after dawn, gradually affects the color on the sharpest ridges, setting them on fire with green, brown, orange, yellow and perfumes that, like gold, inebriate the senses. And the chirping of birds everywhere. And the ocean waves at least three meters high. The waterfall, the palm trees, the campfire. The human smile of unknown friends.

And then just the chills down my spine for something I can’t forget.

MAKUA BEACH – OAHU

Makua Beach is one of the most secluded and far away beaches in Oahu. The word “Makua” translates from the Hawaiian language to “parent”. Legend says that Makua Valley was the place where man was first created.

The beach is very wide and is not very popular with tourists. Pay attention to the seabed which does not slope gently but gets deep quite quickly.

Did you know that this beach is named “Pray 4 Sex”?
As you walk from the parking lot to the beach you’ll see some decades-old graffiti on a rock that reads “pray 4 sex”. Why? The surfers would head out from this beach and pray for waves, or “pray for sets” of good waves. So the “pray for sets” beach got turned into “pray for sex” over the years, then somebody painted that on a rock and a legend was born. Funny, isn’t it?

4 days in Big Island – Hawaii

I love Hawaii and I don’t miss an opportunity to go back there because I consider these islands my “home”. This year I was lucky enough to visit Big Island for the first time, the largest and youngest of the islands. What to visit if you only have 4 days available?

Waipio Valley – “The Sacred Door” – Luca Oliveri

Big Island

You can travel through many of the world’s different climate zones here, ranging from Wet Tropical to Polar Tundra and to Desert, a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Maunakea and Maunaloa.

The nature is beautiful and there are many cool activities and it is almost impossible to fit everything in your vacation. Big Island is a very special and very relaxing island. Here are the stops that I recommend if you only have a few days to visit the island.

DAY 1 and DAY 2 – WAIPIO VALLEY and BLACK SAND BEACH

WAIPIO VALLEY

Waipio Valley – Luca Oliveri

Waipio Valley is of awe-inspiring beauty, mostly wilderness interspersed with taro fields (Taro is a traditional Hawaiian staple food) and a couple of dozens of inhabitants. It was home to old Hawaiian kings. Waipio Valley is named after the river that runs through the valley (wai-piʻo means curved water in the Hawaiian language). The valley meets the ocean towards the north with a beautiful black sand beach that is cut in two by the river.

Some curiosities about the Valley:

  • A legend says that the Waipio Valley is the gateway to an otherworldly realm and is considered to be one of the holiest places in all of Hawaiian islands.
  • Off the coast of Waipio Valley, Kamehameha the Great fought the first Hawaiian naval battle
  • The Waipio Valley is an alleged site of the Night Marchers. They appear and march to the sound of an invisible drum beat. Many believe that they are the ghosts of warriors still on the way to do battle.
  • Captain Cook loved this place

In this place parts of the movie “WATERWORLD” with ‘Kevin Costner’ was filmed

Hiking tips:

  • The Hike down into Waipi‘o Valley will take you from the overlook into the valley, to the black sand beach, and back up. The total length of this hike is 6.5 miles including lots of vertical meters and is not for the faint of heart. It’s strenous.
  • The Muliwai Trail until the Waimanu Valley. The complete trail is an extremely difficult 2-day hike. The first part of the hike (up the valley wall) is also strenuous but not that long and very rewarding. You will get a unique view in the valley that is especially spectacular with the setting sun.
  • Hi‘ilawe Falls: this hike is in the back of the valley and is not possible without crossing over private property. Don’t attempt without the landowners’ permission.

BLACK SAND BEACH

Black Sand Beach – Luca Oliveri

The beach is split in two by the river coming out of the Waipio Valley, and depending on the amount of water it can be difficult to cross. It’s a dangerous place to go swimming especially during the winter months. I suggest you to spend lots of time here, this is an energetic beach.

DAY 3 – KILAUEA VOLCANO

Located along the southeastern shore of the island, the volcano is between 210,000 and 280,000 years old. Its’ the youngest and most active volcano on the island of Hawaiʻi, with a consistently active summit caldera that frequently hosts lava lake-style eruptions. According to Native Hawaiian tradition, Halemaʻumaʻu crater is the home of the volcanic deity Pele.

In the park, there are many trails that you can follow to admire the landscapes. I recommend that you dedicate at least a full day to this area. And in the evening, when the light goes down, the spectacle of the lava and of the fire in the crater is fascinating.

DAY 4 – Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden and RELAX AT MAKALAWENA BEACH

Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden

It’s a nonprofit botanical garden and nature preserve located on the 4 mile scenic route off of the Old Māmalahoa Highway. Their mission is to inspire and educate people to live in unison with our planet through inclusive education focused on diverse ecosystems.

These gardens are a spectacle of nature. I admit I was skeptical at first because I feared they might be too touristy and not very glamorous. I quickly changed my mind as soon as I entered. You’re immediately projected into a tropical paradise and the visit proceeds pleasantly in an environment of great magnificence. If you are in the area I highly recommend them. I am sure you will be fascinated by it.

MAKALAWENA BEACH

Probably the best beach in Big Island, and not accessible by road. There are several bays dug out from the Kona coast with beautiful white sand beaches and plenty of shade from palm trees. The hike to Makalawena Beach keeps the crowds away, especially on weekdays. It’s hard to find a more perfect beach anywhere in the Hawaiian island chain. Swimming is generally quite safe when the water is still.

This is the Kekaha Kai State Park, formerly known as Kona Coast State Park. The name Kekaha Kai comes from the Hawaiian phrase ke kaha kai, meaning “the shore line.”

TRAVELLING DURING CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS

What will you do during the Christmas holidays? Have you decided to go on a trip somewhere in the world? Here are the 3 best experiences you could have.

Times Square – Luca Oliveri

Lapland

Lapland is a wildland, even more during the winter, when the landscape is transformed into the land of Santa Claus.

Haven’t you ever dreamed as a child of spending a few days playing completely immersed in the snow?

Would you like to meet the sweet and cuddly huskies or the impassive and funny reindeer?

And if on your bucket list, there’s sleeping in a glass igloo admiring the Northern Lights in the dark sky of the Arctic night, from the warmth of your bed, Lapland is the destination you absolutely must choose for your next trip.

I suggest you consider the Swedish Lapland, most of all if you prefer an exclusive trip with fewer tourists, where you can meet authentic people who will accompany you on your excursions with competence.

Swedish Lapland – Luca Oliveri

Where to sleep?

Aurora Igloo Hotel (now Peace and Quite Hotel)

Think about this: A solitary place in the middle of a frozen lake during the Lappish winter, plus 21 degrees celsius inside that let you stay lazy in your glass igloo, minus 26 degrees celsius outside, a spectacular view from your bed of the wild nature just some meters from you. And when the polar night comes the Northern Lights spectacle begins just in front of you. At least this was my hope.

Lapland Guesthouse

There is a place far, far away, beyond the polar circle where you could meet the genuine Lappish Experience. They have several different types of accommodations: unique single and double rooms, cabins and even standalone secluded housing like my loft-looking room with a comfortable double bed and a fantastic wood stove or the nice “Viking room” more suitable for a family.

Lapland Glass Igloo- Luca Oliveri

NEW YORK

Also known as  “the big apple” or “the city of dreams” New York is one of the most desired cities in the world, one of the metropolises where every dream can come true, especially after the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

The possible activities in New York are endless. Your trip, even if only for a few days, cannot miss the Brooklyn Bridge and a photo in front of the Manhattan Bridge, enjoying the magnificent view of the city skyline. I would then spend a day walking around Times Square and Central Park.

At sunset, it’s a must to go up the Rockefeller Center at Top of the Rock to enjoy a fantastic view of the city and the Empire State Building.

There are also many museums in New York: don’t miss the MET, the MOMA and the New Museum. And, after a day of shopping, why not attend an evening musical on Broadway?

New York reel – Luca Oliveri

WHERE TO SLEEP?

There are fantastic hotels of every level in New York. One of the prerogatives of the city is obviously the feeling of being inside a concrete jungle. Why not choose a room with a great view of New York? I recommend the Arlo Nomad hotel. Upon your arrival, ask for one of the King Sky rooms on the higher floors to enjoy a splendid view of the city from the glass window. It is one of the 10 best room view hotels in New York.

Arlo Nomad Hotel – Luca Oliveri

HAWAII

It is impossible to not love these islands. Mythology, Pacific Ocean, the most fascinating treks in the world. Waikiki, Honolulu. The Aloha spirit. Do you need anything else to start dreaming?

Do volcanic islands have an energetic imprint? At the summit of Haleakalā it’s easy to forget where you came from as you look out onto what feels like another world. At dawn, I was suspended in a soft sea of clouds in one of the most magical moments of my life, full of freedom and peace.

It is the intimate contact with nature or, sometimes, with ourselves, the protagonist of the travel.

For example, I had my most intense experience climbing the 3922 steps of the Haiku Stairs, on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. There I found that I did not climb the ridge to the summit just to enjoy the magnificent scenery, but gradually I saw myself reflected into nature and I experienced a great feeling of well-being.

Have you ever heard about the Kalalau Trail? It’s a truly life experience along the Nā Pali Coast of Kauai. The trail runs approximately 11 miles (18 km) along the island’s north shore from Keʻe Beach to the Kalalau Valley and then to the Kalalau Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful, and dangerous, hikes in the world.

Oahu – Luca Oliveri

Where to sleep?

The Waikiki area is full of fantastic resorts. Just out of Honolulu, you can find many accommodations surrounded by nature or cottages directly on the beach. Why not? Have you ever thought of sleeping in a tent in the middle of the Hawaiian forest or along a beautiful trail?

Maui – Red Beach – Luca Oliveri

3 days in New York

3 days in New York for the long weekend of 8 December represent an ideal mini-vacation to unwind.

Manhattan Bridge – Luca Oliveri

New York, “the big apple”, “the city of dreams”

Also known as  “the big apple” or “the city of dreams” New York is one of the most desired cities in the world, one of the metropolises where every dream can come true, especially after the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

A full week is the ideal time to visit it, but if we only have 4 days, what to see?

Arlo Nomad – Manhattan – Luca Oliveri

Day 1 – Brooklyn

I would dedicate the first day to Brooklyn, simply walking through the streets or along the river, the East River, admiring the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. A mandatory photo is the one that can be taken from the intersection between Front St and Whashington St.

That point is definitely Instagrammable and therefore you have to prepare to find some people there, but with a little of patience you can surely take the perfect photo for your social networks

For lunch, I chose Seamore’s Dumbo, where I enjoyed an excellent sandwich with poached egg and avocado.

In December, it gets dark quite early and at around 4.30pm the sunset sets everything on fire. All that remains is to take a nice walk on the Brooklyn Bridge, relaxing by walking along this iconic New York attraction, take some photos with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop and then return to the mainland and head towards the Brooklyn Bridge Park area.

There, the view of the Manhattan skyline is impressive and when the sun sinks to the horizon and everything turns orange and then purple it seems to be in an alien landscape. It will be one of the best views of New York, along with the one from Rockefeller Center you will see the day next.

Brooklyn Bridge – Luca Oliveri

Day 2 – Rockefeller Center and Time Square

I spent the morning taking some pictures in the beautiful room with a view of the Arlo Nomad hotel where I stayed, and then going out for a walk towards Time Square and having lunch at the Italian restaurant ‘Da Tony’ near there.

The best time, in my opinion, to climb the ‘Top of the Rock’ is another time, the sunset. Tickets cost $50 at that time of the day. Climb around 4pm to enjoy the sunset at the top at 4.30pm. The view of the Empire State Building from up there and of the concrete jungle that is Manhattan is stunning.

If the view is dizzying and might scare someone, I experienced a pleasant feeling of serenity. Certainly, once you get off, in the dark and after the city lights had already lit up, the memory that you will carry in your heart will be unforgettable.

Don’t miss the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and maybe an ice skating

Top of the Rock – Rockefeller Center – Luca Oliveri

Day 3 – Central Park and the MOMA

Central Park is a must to do. In December the trees lost most of their leaves, but on a sunny day a walk through the park restores your energy. There is also the option of ice skating with a skyline view for around $20.

The MOMA is the Museum of Modern Arts. I begin by saying that it is a famous museum, a must-visit, but it is strange. Modern art is always something on the edge, so you should certainly not expect the classic works of art present in another very famous New York museum: the MET.

Where to sleep?

There are fantastic hotels of every level in New York. One of the prerogatives of the city is obviously the feeling of being inside a concrete jungle. Why not choose a room with a great view of New York? I recommend the Arlo Nomad hotel. Upon your arrival, ask for one of the King Sky rooms on the higher floors to enjoy a splendid view of the city from the glass window. It is one of the 10 best room view hotels in New York.

Arlo Nomad – King Sky Room – Luca Oliveri

NORWAY IN OCTOBER

In autumn the days become shorter, the air is fresher, the food is richer, and the colors are more dazzling.

Is October an ideal time to enjoy Norway’s colorful fall scenery?

Is October an ideal time to enjoy Norway’s colorful fall scenery?

I’ve spent 1 week traveling along the West Coast and Fjords at the end of October, and I’m going to tell you the pros and cons of traveling there in this period of the year.

A land with impressive fjords

Norway is a magnificent land with impressive fjords, and its coastline blends with the sea like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. Perhaps the best way to see all this beauty is to drive your car or your camper van.

Bergen and the weather in Norway

I arrived at Bergen airport, the gateway to the West Coast and the fjords’ area.

Bergen is famous for its pier, the “Bergen Bryggen”, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, I was unlucky and on the Sunday of my arrival the weather was not at all mild. Rain and wind did not allow me to take advantage of that afternoon that I had reserved for visiting the city.

October rolls around with crisp, cool air, and shorter daylight hours.

In the West Coast and fjords area, it often rains! And this is a fact, perhaps, here, it rains more than in any other part of ​​Norway.

This is because of the mountains that hold back the rain that pours into this abundant and frequent area. During my stay in Norway, it rained every day!

Fortunately, there was no lack of sun that, with ray of lights, illuminated the splendid nature, set the plants on fire with red, yellow and orange colors.

Well, you need to be ready to face both the colorful autumn and the cold winter, from the sun to the snow, on the same day.

Crowds and Driving

Travelers looking for good deals and fewer crowds should consider October: this is likely the quietest and cheapest month to visit Norway.

Driving in Norway is simple. The roads are usually one lane and the speed limit is 80 km / h. In fact, driving faster wouldn’t be very easy anyway because the roads wind in twists and turn up and down across mountains and fjords. The landscape, which at times resembles Scotland and at times Iceland, makes the journey from one point to another very pleasant. In October, you often travel long stretches of road without crossing anyone for kilometers. Even in the most famous areas or viewpoints you are always alone.

Atlantic Ocean Road – Luca Oliveri

What to Do

It’s always very difficult to answer such a question, because each of us has his own particular needs when traveling. In general, October is a month when the days are still not too cold, where it’s still possible to go hiking (even if some routes are already closed), where you can still enjoy the beautiful landscape in the coastal area.

From Bergen to the Atlantic Ocean Road

My itinerary, which started from Bergen, included several stops heading north, crossing the Sognefjord, the Geirangerfjord and covering the entire length of the Nordfjord, to get to the splendid Atlantic Ocean Road, the famous road set of the James Bond movie ” No time to die “. I suggest you to spend your night in one of the several cabins you can find fully immersed into the nature. I chose the Jolstraholmen and its “river suite” and the Juvet Landscape Hotel where I spent 2 nights each. These places are perfect for exploring the surrounding and the quality of your stay is unbelievable.

Cabin porn

Think of finding yourself in first row in the warmth of your cabin admiring the landscape in front of you from an immense glass: alone or with the person you love, when slowly the light of the day gives way to the colors of the evening and then to the glow of the moon and the stars in the night. And when you go to sleep it will be the background of the water of the stream a few meters from you to induce sleep, gently.

There you are able to reach waterfalls (don’t miss Huldefossen!), and other natural landscapes like the Gaularfjellet point of view. For those willing to leave tried and tested tourist routes, Gaularfjellet is one of Norway’s most kept secrets. The road winds through Gaular up to Utsikten for incredible panoramic views of the entire area.

Jolstraholmen River Suite

The Geiranger Fjord

Between Jolstraholmen Camping and Juvet Landscape Hotel I suggest you go hiking in the Geirangerfjord area and maybe to spend your night in one of the cottages or hotels of that area. There is a nice small village you can reach by rib boat or by hiking: Skagefla and Homlongsetra. It depends if you travel in the first part of October when the rib boat services are still available or in the second part, as I did, when it’s difficult to reach the beginning of the hike with the boat and you should hike all the way from Geiranger. The hike is easy/moderate and will take approximately 1 hour and a half to 2 hours to reach the highest viewpoint of Hamlongsetra (7 km out and back) from where in 30 minutes more you can go down to Skagefla. So you should plan about 5-6 hours to hike all the way from Geiranger and 8-9 kilometers with 600 meters of gain. You will be rewarded with outstanding views of the fjord and of the “Seven sisters waterfalls”.

Refviksanden

The day after visiting the magnificent Geirangerfjord I headed east towards the coast and the white beach of Refviksanden. Thanks to the sun that appeared just at that moment, on the beach, the water of the sea was turquoise, but to fully enjoy the fantastic landscape the best way is to hike a trail that climbs steeply up the mountain for about 30 minutes and admire the beach from there. Unfortunately, that trail does not have a name, but you can easily find it on the right by driving along the Kvalheimsvegen just near the first rest area on the left. The advice is, obviously, to go up for the sunset.

Is October an ideal time to enjoy Norway’s fjords AND WEST COAST AREA?

Yes, I think October is an ideal time of year to enjoy Norway’s colorful fall scenery in peace and quiet, as travelers are few and far between. Life is less expensive because October is considered low season, is simple to find accommodations, you can enjoy the autumn landscapes as well winter ones. Temperatures are still good and the overall moody even if, at times a bit melancholy, it represents well the majesty and drama of the landscape.

Luca Oliveri – Gaularfjellet

Armenian’s road trip on a Lada Niva 4×4

Armenia is a fascinating and culturally rich country. Outside the classic itineraries proposed by tour operators there are splendid places of indescribable beauty. I traveled on a 4×4 Lada Niva which allowed me to reach all the stops that I had set for myself.

Luca Oliveri on Mount Khustup – Armenia

Lada Niva Legend

LADA 4х4 is a legendary vehicle which live with strong emotions. It stormed the North Pole and Everest, participated in rally Paris-Dakar, domesticated the Antarctic. It is known and loved by everyone who drive it. Its vocation is off-road conditions,and Armenia is its perfect landscape setting to enhance its nature.

In Armenia they say “You have a Lada Niva, you can go anywhere!”

It’s certainly original to undertake a journey through the Armenian roads, as a tourist, deciding to drive this type of car which, especially if engaged in the chaotic city traffic of the capital Yerevan, certainly does not turn out to be the most comfortable car: no air conditioning, no power steering, manual gearbox not even that simple to insert, spartan seats and instruments. All this, however, is amply rewarded by its indescribable off-road performance, its strongness and the feeling to be able to go everywhere.

To understand what it means to travel through Armenia on a Lada Niva imagine this: an extremely bumpy steep mountain road, with holes, stones, cobbles, slopes and the Niva that climbs that path without showing fatigue. In Armenia they say “You have a Lada Niva, you can go anywhere!”

Lada Niva

My Armenian 4 wheel drive trip

The flights to Yerevan from Europe arrive very early in the morning. We landed and, after completing the formalities and collecting the car, we headed towards the city center where we had booked the hotel. Although it was now almost 3 in the morning it was hot and the Lada Niva snorted heat from the engine that invaded the cabin.

The traffic in Yerevan is, at times, exhausting and the heat in the central hours of the day, in August, becomes unbearable. Cars overtake from every direction, intrude on your lane without warning, don’t care in the least about your presence. The chaotic concrete jungle, with the imposing constructions that recall the once dominant Russian architecture, slowly gives way to the suburbs and to much less busy, but also quite bumpy, streets and in some places unpaved roads. We have to get used to it, this is the road system in Armenia. You find yourself stuck in traffic and to travel 1 km it takes up to half an hour and, shortly after, you are arguing with the holes and stones in a peripheral road bouncing on the seat continuously.

Yerevan is definitely the perfect base for visiting the northern part of Armenia and its most popular and touristic attractions. We stayed there 5 nights, allowing ourselves the luxury of the splendid Alexander Hotel which is part of the renowned Luxury Hotels of the World chain.

Khor Virap monastery and the Ararat Mountain

Khor Virap is easily reached in 1 hour drive from Yerevan and it’s the Armenia’s most sacred monastery and with the breathtaking Mount Ararat backdrop is the most spiritual place in the country. You can only imagine my excitement when I rounded the corner and, then, this energetic landscape finally came into focus cuddled by the sunset light.

The Azat Reservoir

I suggest you to spend some time at the Azat Reservoir, a fantastic place where the unique and surreal formations of the mountains and hills are reflected in the water with pastel shades. There
you will live the beauty of being outdoors enjoying every moment of the day until the last when the light of the day, gently, gives way to the low darkness of the night, illuminated by the rising moon and, then, the mirror of the lake becomes more like alabaster.

Azat Reservoir

The Azhdahak Mountain

After visiting the canyon of Garni, its Greco-Roman temple and the nearby monastery of Geghard, if you are intrepid enough, the Gegham mountains region offers scenery of indescribable beauty. The Azhdahak mountain, the “dragon’s volcano”, is the symbol of the region. You can go on a multi-day trek or you can reach it in a day trip from Yerevan driving along the first part of the path with a Jeep or, as in our case, with the Lada Niva. The road that leads to the base of the Azhdahak volcano is really impervious and quite difficult and dangerous to travel, therefore recommended only for an experienced off-road driver. From there the climb to the summit of the volcano is 5 km one way, with 600 meters of gain and will take about 1h and half. From the summit the landscape is unbelivable.

Going to the South – The Mount Khustup

We have planned to climb Mount Khustup which lies to the south on the border with Nagorno Karabakh. To get there, from Yerevan, it takes at least 6 hours because, the route is mostly an ups and downs in the mountains. We arrived at 9 pm in Kapan, the city that stay at the base of the mountain. On the road we had a stop at the Tatev monastery, a must to see along the way. There, we took some photos at sunset before continuing to Kapan. To climb the Mount Khustup you need to plan at least 2 days because the trek is quite long, almost 30 kilometers with a gain of 2200 meters. We slept in a tent halfway under a sky full of stars in Navcha Base Camp and then set off for the summit the following morning at 4. Mount Khustup is a pilgrimage site and is considered sacred. If the day is clear, at the top, you can see 5 states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Nagorno Karabakh and Turkey

The 3 most fascinating places in Lanzarote

Is it too simplistic to make a ranking that contains only the 3 most magical places on the island? Which are the places you can’t miss if you have only 3 days?

Volcan el Cuervo

Lanzarote is the northernmost and easternmost island of the Canary Islands and has a volcanic origin. There are more than 300 dormant volcanoes scattered across the island.

We are a hundred kilometers from the coast of Morocco. The landscape is lunar and so fascinating that it requires a great effort not to travel uninterruptedly its streets, even without a specific destination but just for the satisfying pleasure of experiencing the island in its majesty.

The island is almost entirely covered with solidified lava, which, depending on the sunlight, takes on various colors: from black to pink, from purple to ocher.

Which are the 3 most fascinating places on the island?

Perhaps, it is too simplistic to make a ranking that contains only the 3 most magical places on the island. There are undoubtedly many ideas where to experience the magnetic energy of volcanoes and many picturesque beaches where you can relax in the sun. But if we only have a few days available, here are my tips to ensure you to get the best of the island’s energy: the surfers’ beach, the volcanoes road, trekking in the Risco de Famara area.

Are you more of an adventurous person who loves hiking or a beach person?

If you are more of a beach type, then you will love “Playa de Famara” because it is incredibly wild, big, with constant waves making it the ideal beach for surfers. The surrounding mountains embrace it and guard it as in a temple. This is the place where I felt most the Hawaiian beaches sensation.

It’s a pale golden sand beach that stretches out for over five kilometers located within the Natural Park of the Chinijo Archipelago, between the fishing village of La Caleta de Famara and the base of the impressive cliffs of Famara. The best moment to enjoy it is when the water forms a thin film on the sand, reflecting the sky and the cliffs like a gigantic mirror.

There I spent some time on the sand relaxing, I witnessed the sunset light that colored everything, even if that day the sky was overcast, I took pictures of the dunes that fall on the beach and then into the roaring sea.

Playa de Famara

If, on the other hand, you are more of a hiking type…

…then you can’t miss the “Cueva de las Cabras” and the “Risco de Famara”.

The cliff is impressive, the view from that incredible height of 672mt is both on the sea and beach, and on the surrounding volcanoes and, if the sky is clear enough, you can clearly see the Timanfaya National Park with its volcanoes.

“Cueva de las Cabras” is a little bit dangerous short hike that leads you into this cave from where the view is spectacular. And if you’re brave enough, you can try to climb the rock that guards the cave, like in my photo, and enjoy the majestic scenery under your feet.

Cueva de las Cabras

The most magical place in Lanzarote is undoubtedly the road of the volcanoes

In a primordial world, life is born from the lava of volcanoes. We are born from the ground, we are molded land. I find myself in the contemplation of the ancient breath of creation.

Timanfaya – volcanoes road

And if photography is to wait for the perfect light and then paint with it the picture, this road is undoubtedly the ideal spot where the light is simply astonishing. Here I was captured, barefoot, at sunset, while I was trying to take away that stunning magnetic moment with me.

Timanfaya – volcanoes road

I felt like I had landed on the moon amid the color of the sunset and the black of the lava.

I felt tiny in front of such an extraordinary landscape.

I felt the need to return several times, simply to cross this road, attracted by an energy born from the ground and feeling absolutely connected with that place. The experience was the most wonderful lived in Lanzarote.

Vang Vieng – The best hiking trails

Vang Vieng is a little town in the middle of nowhere in Laos, once a crazy town dominated by wild backpackers, now an eco-adventure destination, attracting the usual backpackers and adventurers and thrill-seekers alike.

This place has never been more attractive than now, with boutique hotels and high-end restaurants replacing some of the party-laden backpacker bars that used to pack the waterfront. It’s now a calm oasis for enjoying nature, jungle hikes, and lazy days cooling off in the river.

Luca Oliveri in the Nam Xay Viewpoint

How to get to Vang Vieng

The best way to get here is to fly into Vientiane, where you can buy a bus ticket at any travel agency or guesthouses and they will pick you up at the place you are staying at a specified time. It will take you around 4 – 6 hrs to get to Vang Vieng, depending on the road condition.

The trip is challenging, the road condition is usually bad with so many holes and I’m pretty sure you will end the journey with a bothersome back pain.

But it’s worth it!

How to Get Around Vang Vieng

The best way to get around in Vang Vieng and have the opportunity to explore the city center and the majestic landscape beauties of the area is to rent a motorbike. Comfortable, easy to drive, economical: it will take you anywhere.

Luca Oliveri walking around Vang Vieng

Where to sleep in Vang Vieng

I absolutely suggest you to stay at Villa Tara in Vang Vieng. This place is stunning. Set among rice fields and overlooking the Nam Song River, your villa will have views of the rice fields and the river. This place is famous for its rice fields and the walkway photographed in many ways that run through them. The idyllic picture is completed by mountains and a blue sky in pastel shades.

The villas are rustic, so don’t expect 5 stars luxury. The restaurant has traditional but straightforward receipts. The staff is welcoming. The atmosphere is sublime, the sunrise and the sunsets are something extraordinary and living those moments from the patio of your villa in the mid of the rice fields is something special you will remember for a long time.

Luca Oliveri at Villa Tara – Vang Vieng

Best hiking trails

You can walk in the rice fields and enjoy nature, you can go in the country for a bike tour and you will be surrounded by those cliffs and palms and reach the natural pools. And these are the best ways for chilling and enjoy nature during a calm day if you want just to relax. But…

Hiking in Vang Vieng is impressive, as the surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking. I love hiking, being outside all day to enjoy nature beats.

For example, both the Pha Ngern Viewpoint and the Nam Xay Viewpoint are hikes that offer fantastic vistas at the top. But you have to work hard for that reward; both trails are incredibly steep and the hikes are challenging and made even more complex by the heat in the middle of the day.

Pha Ngern Viewpoint 

This is not an easy hike, but you can definitely manage it with good shoes, and most of the time, there are wooden handrails to help you climb up. The view from the top is great.

If you are unfit or a little worried about rock climbing or not suitable for steep hikes, then this is not for you.

It is pretty well maintained with ropes, handrails and “stairs” until the first viewpoint and a little less to the second and higher one. Ther is small “shop” at the first viewpoint where you can buy something to drink and sit on the wooden bench.

The whole route took me about 4 hours with some rest and descent.

Nam Xay Viewpoint 

It’s the best spot for one of Laos’s most breathtaking views. You will get unbeatable views of jagged limestone cliffs, lush forests, and rice fields from the top.

Up there peace and quiet are almost guaranteed because you won’t find lots of people. This hike is famous most of all for its amazing photo opportunity with a motorbike, which was mysteriously placed there by the locals.

The best time to visit Pha Ngern Viewpointand Nam Xay Viewpoint is an hour or two before sunset. The heat isn’t as intense anymore and you will see beautiful colors from the top.

Make sure you don’t stay after the sun goes down though the hike down is scarier and more dangerous in the dark.

The whole route took me about 3 hours with enough time to take pictures with the motorbike and a drone video.

Pha Poak climb and Lusi cave

This is more a climb than a hike and is not for the faint-hearted. It’s more an adventure with a good reward on the top.

It is a dangerous climb with old ladders and sharp rocks to climb onto most of the way up.


If you plan on visiting, please be careful. There is no path and it is very easy to fall at any point if you’re not confident in climbing up or down steep rocks. And make sure you stick to the path, not that there really is one.

While a little challenging, the views from the top are definitely worthwhile, with a 360° degrees view of the surrounding, feeling to be so small in the middle of those fantastic limestone cliffs.

Pha Poak climb