Safed Haathi: Blog en-us (C) Safed Haathi (Safed Haathi) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:57:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:57:00 GMT Safed Haathi: Blog 99 120 Days 353-355 Fiordland Going up Northwest into Fiordland the scenery quickly changes and we are in the mountains again. After Te Anau the road to Milford Sound is arguably the most scenic drive in New Zealand. 120 km of splendid scenery, mountains and ice fields. A 1.2km long one-way tunnel which took almost 20 years to build (construction started in 1935 with five men using picks and wheelbarrows). And after some rain hundreds of small waterfalls. Some impressions from the roadside:



Our only stop on the way in is The Divide, start (or end) of the multi-day Routeburn Track and 1.5 hours up the track brings you to the key summit with fabulous views:


Then it was already time to hurry to Milford Sound and catch our overnight cruise. A first look at a waterfall from the shore:


And some impressions from the ship:



As the Tasman sea was very calm that night we could come out a long way and see the whole coastline of Fiordland from a distance. Here the entrance to Milford wonder it was initially overlooked by James Cook and other European explorers.


The next day it was raining. Which is no big surprise as it rains more than half of the days in Milford Sound. This leads to more and bigger waterfalls and a different atmosphere:



We could also see some Fiordland crested penguins from afar:


There are many points of interest on the road to Milford Sound to on the way we stopped at a few more. The Marian Creek gantry:


A nice bushwalk which features a unique walk wire:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Mon, 14 Dec 2015 02:15:19 GMT
Days 348-352 Southland Going further South from Dunedin only one region is left: Southland. More precisely the Catlins, a quiet backcountry that sees less tourism than most areas on the South Island. They also have a few good waterfalls like Mc Lean's Falls:


And Waiopohatu Falls:


The nice loop track to this waterfall was unfortunately very muddy:


A special attraction on the roadside is The Lost Gypsy, the art gallery of a tinkerer. Heaps of handmade mechanisms in a van and the surrounding garden. Make sure to check it out if you ever come to that area:


Now we are getting close to the Southern end, more specifically the Southern most lighthouse at Waipapa Point:


And just below on the beach some sea lions are relaxing in the sun:


This is also a great place to see the famed Catlin trees, formed by the everblowing wind:


In the Catlins is also the probably best place to see Yellow Eyed Penguins: Curio Bay, a very special beach with fossiled trees and the local penguins come back ashore every evening. No hide or fence you just have to be there at the right time. We were lucky enough to see two penguins when we arrived. One was already all the way up to the rocks outside his hole but waiting for his/her mate to come.


Waddling up the beach:


Happy together again:


Like Cape Reinga on the North Island everybody wants to go to the Bluff on the South Island where the Highway 1 ends. Unlike Cape Reinga it's just a "Been there, done that" place:


Another nice bush walk in Southland is in Mores Reserve:


What makes it special is that along the way are many painted stones with nice sayings like this one:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Tue, 08 Dec 2015 04:25:42 GMT
Days 344-347 Oamaru & Dunedin On the way East back to the coast is a natural attraction on private land: The Grey Cliffs. The generous landowners allow you to enter for $5 per car. Unfortunately the private part of the road is possibly the worst road I came across in New Zealand so far, even in India it would be considered a bad road. In the one hour it took us to drive in and look around 4 other cars came or left so that's $25 in one hour on a rainy afternoon in Spring. They must make heaps of money especially in Summer but apparently they need it for something else than road maintenance...

The cliffs itself are quite interesting though:


Coming back to the coast the next stop is Oamaru. A town famous for its victorian architecture and the Steampunk scene:


The best attractions are a bit further down the coast. First the Moeraki boulders, stones on the beach with a magnetic influence on tourists:


Little known the much more impressive and tourist free boulders are at a hidden beach nearby:



Also close by, one of the best spots to see some Yellow Eyed Penguins. Yes penguins are not living at the Antarctic exclusively. Unlike many other places at the Katiki Lighthouse you don't have to stay in a hide and watch with binoculars. Here the penguins are just meters away from you behind a fence:



Next stop Dunedin and the steepest road in the world: Baldwin St


The best thing to do in Dunedin is probably to go out the Otago Peninsula. A beautiful drive through a beautiful scenery. Here the view from the Sandymount Loop Track:


Dunedin also has a very interesting beach only reachable through a man-made tunnel, imaginatively called Tunnel Beach.


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sun, 06 Dec 2015 04:05:11 GMT
Days 340-343 Into the Southern Alps - Part 2 The Canterbury High Country is all about mountains and lakes. Two lakes especially. The first one is Lake Tekapo, surrounded by snowcapped mountains all around.


At sunset:


For better views on lake and mountain take the peninsula track and enjoy 2 hours of beauty. nat-NZ-canterbury-lake_tekapo_peninsula_track-4nat-NZ-canterbury-lake_tekapo_peninsula_track-4

White cliffs near peninsula track:


And for even better views, up to Mt. John Observatory - a perfect place for lunch.


The second famous lake is Lake Pukaki, here with Mt. Cook in the background:


What can you do when the weather just keeps being awesome? More walks like the Hooker Valley Track near Mt. Cook, which features some fantasic views on ice and mountains:



And another walk to see the Tasman Glacier closer than from the official viewpoint. As it turns out a glacier is quite a dirty thing:


The next day the weather changed completely, the blue sky gone and heavy rain pouring down. So just a quick excursion to the official Tasman glacier viewpoint. Well the edge is barely visible:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 25 Nov 2015 05:52:23 GMT
Days 340-343 Into the Southern Alps - Part 1 Finally it was time to get a close look at the Southern Alps. Going West from Christchurch you eventually pass two bridges over the Rakaia Gorge. A short walk gives you a good view over that area.


The first mountain to climb was Mt. Somers. Here a view back the way we came:


Going up the Miners Track you eventuall reach - no surprise - a mine:


On the way back to the main road I tried to chase down a rabbit for dinner but he was just too quick:


We put up our tent for the night at Lake Clearwater, a beautiful location but in Spring it has still morning frost...brrrrr... But the view in the morning lets you almost forget the cold:


A closer look at the mountains:


Just 15km more into the mountains waits another famous LOTR attraction: Edoras, previously known as Mt. Sunday. It's not really a mount though, just a hill in a valley, but the surrounding mountains are quite impressive.


View from the top:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 21 Nov 2015 00:03:41 GMT
Days 334-339 Banks Peninsula & Christchurch Coming down from Kaikoura there is a very interesting accomodation option in Waipara. The Waipara Sleepers, some historic railway wagons transformed into rooms:


The inside is very cosy:


Further down the coast just next to Christchurch is the Banks Peninsula. The main town Akaroa (700 residents) was the French settlement in New Zealand bought from the local Maori by a French whaler. The British claimed the land first though so it never was officially French but the influence of the first settlers is still visible everywhere. For example a Backpackers double room looks like this:


And they even had a piano!


All along the peninsula goes the Summit Rd, where you have magnificent views into all the bays:


And you can also do some walking to get to some more remote viewpoints:


Again a view from the Summit Rd onto the small Onawe peninsula...


...which you can access by an adventurous walk (if you don't choose the easily walkable beach)


In Christchurch we had our first two rainy days, perfect for the museum and the Antarctic Centre, which is probably a bit overpriced but the ride on the Hagglund is good fun:



(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Tue, 17 Nov 2015 05:50:41 GMT
Days 330-332 Kaikoura Coming down the East coast Kaikoura is a must see place, famous for its abundant marine life. Whales, dolphins, seals, albatross you name it.

If you wonder why the whales are in Kaikoura and not somewhere else, the reason is simple: Deep water. Just 1km offshore the sea floor drops below 1000m depth. This is due the geological position between two crusts which has also pushed up the Kaikoura ranges (up to 2600 metres high just 12km from the sea).

Therefore the drive along the coast to Kaikoura and onwards is one of the most scenic drives you can find in NZ. The sea on your left the whole time and now and then mountains rising up to your right:


Before you even reach Kaikoura you can see your first seals at the Ohau stream and waterfall. The best thing: These are cute little pubs playing in the stream and waterfall. Unfortunately the easy 5 minute walk from the highway also means tourist crowds.



It doesn't really get much better than that even though the seal colony in Kaikoura has pubs as well:


But everybody comes to see the whales and the only question is: boat or plane? It turns out if you get a good deal a scenic 40 minutes flight might even be cheaper than the 3 hour boat trip and - well - even if we were unlucky and didn't see any whales the flight alone would have been really cool:


But of course there where two sperm whales coming up to breath shortly after each other and we were circling over them for more than 10 minutes.




(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sun, 08 Nov 2015 04:52:35 GMT
Days 327-329 Marlborough With the app released work was finished for now and it's time to travel again. So let's hop over to the South Island. The weather started out rainy and cold in Wellington but half way the sky cleared and the sun was greeting us. A first view on the Marlborough Sounds from the ferry:


Picton harbour at sunset - even better:


On the next day we drove deep into the Sounds to Mistletoe Bay which has a nice walk up to the Onahau Hilltop Lookout. And it's a true lookout with stunning 360° views.


Next stop Marfells Beach, a nice little campground directly on the beach which features a walk to the historic Cape Campbell Lighthouse.



From the lighthouse you can even see the North Island on a clear day:


So the 1.5 hours walk along the beach to the lighthouse was quite nice but the same way back could become a bit boring. Luckily before we were even halfway back two quads came along and offered to take us back to the campground, so we were speeding back over sand and stone while frantically holding our hats.

The best part was still to come. The two guys were catching some crayfish and offered to cook us one for dinner.


After 10 minutes of boiling:


Apparently we ate the first one so eagerly that they gave us a second one. I guess that's the famous Kiwi hospitality.

On the next day another beach walk was waiting. Described as "Tiring 5km one way" but with the promise of an unspoiled tourist-free seal colony. It took us more than 1.5 hours before we saw the first seal:


After 2.5 hours we finally reached "The Needles" and it was definitly worth the effort:




(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Tue, 03 Nov 2015 23:47:56 GMT
Days 112-326 Winter So winter was approaching and it was time to find some work. I decided to stay in Wellington because I heard there are many 6 month contracts available in the IT sector. But first some sightseeing.

The famous cable car:


The even more famous Te Papa museum has a quite aggressive sculpture at the entrance:


But they also have a fantastic Maori exhibition:


On a beautiful day the scenic harbour drive is stunning:


The wooden church Old St. Paul's...not too bad either:


Now finding a job takes some time so I went woofing again while sending out applications. The first place I found was in Waikanae, a beautiful location on the hillside with a fantastic view on Kapiti Island:

nat-NZ-kapiti_coast-la_pineta-kapiti_island&south_islandnat-NZ-kapiti_coast-la_pineta-kapiti_island&south_island The sunsets were stunning:


And as I found out on the first evening my host was a software developer who just started a new project with his friend. They were looking for help writing an app for the real estate market. And he would also go travelling around the world for 3 months, needing somebody to stay in the house and take care of dog and cat.

How could I say no to that? The next months passed by quickly. I saw my first Kiwi in the Nga Manu in Waikanae:


And did I mention the sunsets?


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Tue, 03 Nov 2015 06:45:00 GMT
Days 106-111 Taumarunui The Forgotten World Highway ends in Tauramunui, starting point for many activities. One is the Timber Trail, a mountain bike trail through the Pureora Forest which follows historic railway lines and haul roads.


It features some of the highest and longest suspension bridges, the most impressive one is Maramataha Bridge with a length of 141m


It was again a bright and sunny day...

tra-NZ-taumarunui-timber_trail-roadtra-NZ-taumarunui-timber_trail-road when I entered the dark tunnel I was suddenly like blind as it is in a bend and you don't see the end of the tunnel.


The top activity in Taumarunui is the Great Walk that is no walk: The Whanganui River Journey, a 3-5 day trip down the river in a canoe. Despite the weather forecast it was marvellous on the first day:


A small rapid:



A short walk from the river is the Bridge to Nowhere, a concrete bridge built in 1935/36 across a deep gorge to provide access to a valley that was given to WWI veterans for settlement around 1917. The intention was to build roads to it later, but the area proved to be so remote and unsuitable for farming that the last 3 families left a few years after the bridge was completed.


The last day started very slow with heavy headwind but towards the end of the journey are the best rapids. One of the last is the 50/50 rapid, named after the chance you have to get through without flipping over. I can confirm that it's true as two of the three other canoes nearby flipped over.

(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 30 May 2015 23:46:56 GMT
Days 102-105 Stratford Part 2 Stratford itself has a rich history. It is named after the birthplace of Shakespeare and nearly all the streets are namend after characters from his plays. Here you can also find the only glockenspiel in New Zealand which plays scenes from Romeo and Juliet a few times a day:


Just South of Stratford is the Taranaki Pioneer Village which is an outdoor museum aiming to present the life of Taranaki pioneers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Here a police station and prison:


And a chemist:


Stratford is also one end of the so called Forgotten World Highway, a 150 km highway that runs through some rugged, beautiful countryside over four mountain saddles and through a river gorge. The other end is Taumarunui, another good spot for some adventure.

After taking a 1.5 hour detour from the highway over gravel roads you find yourself on the Bridge to Somewhere (not to be confused with the Bridge to Nowhere, we'll come to that one later). Ironically, the bridge was built only after most of the settlers had abandoned their farms during the 1930s economic depression.


Another much shorter detour and a short walk brings you to Mt Damper falls, with 85m one of the highest waterfalls on the North Island:


The view from one of the saddles:


The most famous attraction on the highway is Whangamomona, a small township that declared itself a Republic in 1989 to protest against redrawing of council boundaries which would have moved them from the Taranaki region to the Manawatu-Wanganui region. Every two years they held a Republic Day and elect a president. Apart from the Hotel there is not much to see with only around 150 people living there.


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Fri, 15 May 2015 23:10:45 GMT
Days 102-105 Stratford Part 1 After a stormy night at the campground near Mokau the next stop was Tongaporutu where the beach is a stunning sight at low tide.


But don't leave after you saw that! Bring some patience and wait for the high tide and you can see the waves crushing against the cliffs. Very impressive:


Going further down the coast is the so called Whitecliffs Walkway. Beware the tide they say. It is save 2 hours either side of low tide they say...


...don't believe it. You might end up with soaked shoes. After I took the following picture and picked up my shoes again an even bigger wave came which would have washed away my shoes from the boulder.


The biggest attraction in the Taranaki region is Mt. Taranaki. Usually he hides behind clouds, so you need to bring patience if you want to see him in his full majesty.

The Maori story about Taranaki goes like this:

In the past many magnificent mountain gods lived near the heart of the North Island: Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngāruahoe, Taranaki, Tauhara... and the only female - little Pihanga. Taranaki dared to make advances to Pihanga and was reproached by Tongariro and a mighty battle ensued between them. Tongariro was the stronger of the two mountains. He defeated Taranaki, whose peak shuddered and sides convulsed. In his flight he carved the Wanganui River, forming the Ngāere swamp when he stopped to rest. The he turned north and settled besides Pouākai, a beautiful range. When Taranaki conceals himself with rainclouds, he is said to be crying for his lost love.


Near Stratford is the York Road Loop Track, which follows part of the old Egmont Branch Railway Line. The railway evolved in 1901 when the local Road Board and Council lobbied the Minister of Railways to construct a branch railway for metal quarrying on the mountain. Until the late 1920s, the quarry provided metal for Taranaki roads and rocks for Port Taranaki in New Plymouth. World War II created a major setback for the quarry and it was finally closed during the late 1940s. Typically for New Zealand they removed almost all traces of the railway, just a few remnants where left for this historic walk way.


On Mt. Taranaki himself there is - no surprise - a waterfall. Dawson Falls:


The forest around Dawson Falls is also called Goblin Forest for a reason:


And if you walk for some time through the Goblin Forest you come to Wilkies Pools, a series of natural plunge pools formed by the scouring action of water-borne sand and gravel:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 06 May 2015 06:22:47 GMT
Days 99-101 Waitomo & Te Anga Back in Te Kuiti, but this time better prepared with a pre booked Black Water Rafting tour into the Ruakuri cave. Good fun!



The cave is also famous for the glowworms, like its neighbour Waitomo cave to where a guided tour was included in the package.


From Waitomo starts a scenic road to the coast and down to Mokau where it connects with the highway again. Along the road are many great but often overlooked spots.

Mangapohue natural bridge:


Marokopa Falls:


Piripiri cave:


And the Waikawau tunnel beach, a beach that is only accessible via a narrow tunnel through the sandstone cliffs, which was made in 1911 by three men armed only with picks and shovels.


Finally in Mokau the beach is as black as it gets:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Mon, 27 Apr 2015 08:14:39 GMT
Days 96-98 Taupo & Tauranga After a couple of days in the wild another tourist hot spot is again tolerable: Taupo

The Huka Falls are famous for the amazing color of the water:



And a bit further downstream is a big dam, followed by the Aratiatia Rapids. Not very impressive at the wrong time:


But every 3 hours they open the dam for 15 minutes:


And then it get's more exciting:


I had to pick up some mail that arrived for me in Waihi, so the next stop was Tauranga for one night. Just enough time to climb Mt. Manganui and enjoy the nice view:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Thu, 16 Apr 2015 09:44:23 GMT
Days 93-95 Urewera National Park After all the tourist crowds in and around Rotorua it was time for quietness and nature again. A good 150km from Rotorua is the Lake Waikaremoana in the Urewera National Park. About 100 km of the road are unsealed so it became a quite rough and long drive.


Around the visitor centre and the Holiday Park are a few water falls...: nat-NZ-urewera-aniwaniwa_fallsnat-NZ-urewera-aniwaniwa_falls


...and another lake: Lake Waikareiti which has 6 islands. On the largest Island is again a lake, so that's a lake on and island in a lake on an island in the ocean.


The main thing though is the Great Walk which goes roughly half-way around Lake Waikaremoana. On the first day you go up the Panakiri Ranges and get some fantastic views:


nat-NZ-urewera-lake_waikaremoana-4nat-NZ-urewera-lake_waikaremoana-4 On the second day a look back to the ranges:


A duck:


The Water Taxi Pickup Point which marks the End of the Great Walk:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sun, 12 Apr 2015 01:03:45 GMT
Days 89-92 Rotorua - Part 3 What's the most well known tourist attraction in New Zealand? Right, Hobbiton, so let's go there. In the middle of nowhere surrounded by burned farmland suffering from the drought-like summer a green oasis is attracting more than 300000 visitors per year.

Let's look at some hobbit holes first:



And of course the most famous hobbit hole bag end. Unfortunately there was still no admittance and I couldn't prove that I was responsible for setting up the network for the party night.



The first oak tree overlooking Bag End was cut down and brought in from near Matamata. Each branch was numbered and chopped, then transported and bolted together on top of Bag End (weighing 26 tonne). Over 200000 leaves were imported from Taiwan and attached one by one with glue.

For the Hobbit movies the tree had to be smaller as they are set 60 years earlier so they built up a new artificial tree. After it was all ready Peter Jackson looked at it and said it has the wrong color, so all leaves had to be hand-painted again to match the color in the Lord of the Rings.

From Bag End you have a good view on the party ground and the famous Green Dragon on the other side of the lake.


Passing the watermill


And enjoying a complimentary drink in the Green Dragon


This is still not all, the Rotorua area has more to offer. Just North of Rotorua are the amazing Hamurana Springs with crystal clear water. 15 meters deep it is the deepest natural fresh water spring on the North Island.


And very close by are the Kaituna rapids, loved by all water sport enthusiasts. I was just watching though:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 08 Apr 2015 23:46:46 GMT
Days 89-92 Rotorua - Part 2 Very close to Wai-O-Tapu is the Rainbow Mt and as you can guess from the name it features some nice colored rocks:


Rotorua has also the best Maori culture programs, one of them is a visit to Tamaki Village. It goes over a whole evening, starting with a tradition welcome ceremony:


Then you can explore some customs inside the village like basket weaving...


...or training for warriors:


That was followed by dance performances:


And of course the famous haka war dance:


Last but not least followed the feast called hangi, which was traditionally cooked in a pit oven with heated rocks:

Close by somewhere on State Highway 38 are some great hidden carvings, the Kaingaroa rock carvings. No sign, no carpark, only findable with GPS.


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 04 Apr 2015 22:39:36 GMT
Days 89-92 Rotorua - Part 1 The first thing in Rotorua that you notice is the smell. The smell of sulphur everywhere. The town is in the middle of a geothermal region and that makes it quite unique and unfortunately also a top tourist destination so expect crowds everywhere you go.

That's how it looks in the city park:


That's the museum:


And Ohinemutu Village, the original Maori settlement in Rotorua:


Very close is the thermal park Wai-O-Tapu, where you can expect lots of tourists and a geysir that erupts everyday at 10:15 like a trained dog. That moment is not very spectacular if you don't want to watch the huge crowd taking pictures on command.

So what you can do instead is visit the park between 9:30 and 10:30 when everybody is leaving to get a good place at lady knox geysir and then watch the geysir when almost everybody left, cause the eruption goes on for at least 30 minutes:


If you are a fast walker you can do the park in 45 minutes so I got to see the crowd as well:


The park itself is quite impressive, even after being on White Island.




Outside but very close are big mud pools to see for free:



(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Tue, 31 Mar 2015 03:39:02 GMT
Days 84-88 Northland - Part 3 As already indicated in the last post there is a alternative way back down from the Te Paki Sand Dunes if you have seen enough of the highways.

It's just a short drive through the Te Paki stream down to 90 Mile Beach and then about 67 kms to the exit ramp.



That was rather rough but it's not far and driving on the beach is actually very smooth going. You can easily make 100 kmph on the wet hard sand if you want. But then it's quicker over.

Oh what is that on your right side? The ocean?


It was all going very well...until the exit ramp. There is a longer patch of soft sand to cross which turned out to be a problem:


Luckily a local was just coming down the ramp a few minutes later with his big 4WD Jeep and pulled the car out back on the beach. On the second try I managed to come through with full speed.

After that to finish off Northland a visit to the Kauri forest which is basically on the way down.

Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest), the biggest remaining Kauri in NZ:


Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest), the second biggest remaining Kauri, which has the biggest girth (over 16 meters):


And on the further way to Rotorua are the Wairere Falls, the highest waterfall on the North Island, plunges 153 metres down.


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Thu, 26 Mar 2015 05:02:53 GMT
Days 84-88 Northland - Part 2 Not very surprisingly while moving further north there are more waterfalls and walks. Starting the day with the beautiful Rainbow Falls:


Next stop on the Mahinepua Peninsula for a nice walk along the cliffs:


And finishing the day on 90 Mile Beach with a sunset:


During the day the 90 Mile Beach reveals its featurelessness, which makes it very interesting for adventurous drivers to go down the ramp and drive on the beach. I would not do that of course, would I?


Anyway it's apparently a must-do to visit the northernmost point of NZ and that is Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean crushing into each other. Impressive or so they say, I couldn't see much of it, maybe because it wasn't windy enough.


South of Cape Reinga are the Te Paki Sand Dunes:


Now which road can I take down again? The same highway would be quite boring, wouldn't it? Let's see in the next part...

(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 21 Mar 2015 23:12:03 GMT
Days 84-88 Northland - Part 1 This entry could also have the title "How much can you do in two days?"

Starting off with Muriwai Beach (technically still in the Waitakere region), which has a huge gannet colony:


The weather is great so a swim break at Te Arai beach is booked. After that the next stop are the Piroa Falls:


Still not enough for today as on the way to Whangarei is the Waipu Cave, a fabulous glowworm cave that get's practically no tourist attention. Yes you will get muddy but there will probably be no one else there and you have the cave all for you! Pictures are quite difficult though, so instead you get to see the lovely campground near Whangarei:



The next day was all about walking. Starting off with Mt. Manaia (difficult 3km one-way), where you have a great view from the top:


Followed by Kauri Mtn (1km one-way), a not so impressive view:


Then Smuggles Cove-Busby Head Loop (Moderate 5km loop), where the main reward is to swim in this lovely cove:


A stop at the Whangarei Falls (easy 10 minutes loop):


And last but not least a visit to Tane Moana, a massive Kauri (easy/mod 35 minutes one-way)


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Tue, 17 Mar 2015 02:45:16 GMT
Days 77-83 From Turangi to Piha After a multi-day trek what can you possibly do the next day? Right, let's go for another walk. Just a small one around Lake Rotopounamu, which features a nice beach to have a swim.


Next stop is Te Kuiti, which is near the famous Waitomo caves and has a nice bush walk by the Ruakuri cave.



As it turned out there is lot of cool stuff you can do in the various caves so I might have to come back here... (spoiler: I will!)

Who would guess it but there are more volcanic islands to explore like Rangitoto just outside Auckland harbour. You can walk there the whole day on volcanic stone:


In one bay on the back side of the island called Ship Wreck Bay people used to dump their old ships. According to the signboard there are over 20 wrecks but you can't see a lot:


Heading out west from Auckland is the Waitakere area with the wonderful surfer paradise Piha featuring the Lion rock on a lovely beach:



And we didn't had a waterfall for quite some time so here we go: Kitekite falls in Piha


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Fri, 13 Mar 2015 02:58:29 GMT
Days 75-76 Tongariro Northern Circuit The Tongariro Northern Circuit is one of New Zealand's Great Walks with a length of 43 km. Located South of Lake Taupo in the Tongariro National Park it brings you through a active volcanic scenery that looks rather familiar...


Yes you know this mountain, it's Mt Doom from the Lord of the Rings. Let's have a closer look:


After about 3 hours of walking you reach the foothill of the mountain and from now on you literally walk through Mordor.

A look back at the path: ("Up, up, up the stairs we go")


Without taking sidetrips you reach the highest point after about 5 hours and get some phantastic views as a reward.

The Blue Lake in front and Lake Taupo in the back:


The Emerald Lakes:


A look on the next part of the trek:


As the official huts and campsites were fully booked the only option was to camp wild. You have to leave the path by 500m though which is quite a distance. But there are plenty of good camping spots in Mordor:


Including a sunset next to Mt Ruapehu:


The next morning brought a great view of the same mountain:


And not much more to see, just walking through desert-like land and a small forest. The campsite for the last night though was again at a very neat spot:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Thu, 05 Mar 2015 03:23:21 GMT
Days 73-74 East Coast Driving down the east coast to Napier there are many fabulous bays to explore. In the Tolaga bay is the longest wharf of New Zealand (over 600 meters)


Right next to it starts a nice walk to Cooks Cove:


There you can also find the famous Hole-in-the-Wall


Next stop was another walk to the Shine Falls, located in Hawkes Bay. Just sitting next to the path a New Zealand falcon (Karearea) did let me get close enough to take a picture:


And the Shine Falls itself are quite impressive with a height of 58 meters


Spending the night in Napier I tried to find a restaurant with the help of good old google. So far google never let me down, so let's drive to the nearest Italian restaurant. Oops turned out to be a residantial house. OK next one.... it's not there as well...I'll give him another chance. This time the restaurant is there but unfortunately closed. One last chance! ... Also closed. Eventually the traditional way of parking and walking down on the main road was more successful.

The next entry will be about the Great Walk in the Tongariro National Park and on the way from Napier to Whakapapa was only time for a stop in Taupo to visit a geothermal area, the so called Craters of the Moon.


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 04 Mar 2015 02:14:32 GMT
Days 69-72 East Cape nat-NZ-east_cape-sunrise-2nat-NZ-east_cape-sunrise-2

Good Morning World!

This was officially the first sunrise in the world on 4th Feb 2015. Seen by the lighthouse at the East Cape of New Zealand.


To avoid further tourist crowds + local holidaymakers during the school holidays I headed to the mostly overlooked east coast of the North Island. There I stayed as a helper in a Maori family which I found on helpx. The deal is 4 hours of work per day for food and accomodation. So after mowing and pruning in the first half of the day there was still plenty of time to explore the beautiful surroundings.


A short drive down the coast is Tokomaru, a town that was once a hub of thriving industry, home to the Tokomaru Bay Freezing Works. But once it closed down in 1952 the population went from over 5000 to a mere 550 today. It's good fun to explore the ruins of the former factory buildings.





(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:38:07 GMT
Days 66-68 Whakatane After Waihi I went to Whakatane where I booked a White Island Tour but first a nice walk was waiting for me: The Kohi Pt Track

From there you get a nice view on the Whale Island.


Down on Otarawairere Beach I found a nice hidden waterfall:


Next day the boat to White Island was waiting for me. White Island is the only active marine volcano in New Zealand, it has a constant background activity but is considered rather safe to visit. Landing on the old wharf we got right into some ruins.



Mining Sulphur was stopped for the last time in 1933 due to a bankrupt. The first mining operation had a rather nasty ending as a lahar wiped out all buildings and workers in 1914.

The Sulphur is quite impressive and also very unconvenient, a gas mask is highly recommended.


The main crater:

A mud pool:


On the way back some dolphins played along the boat:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Mon, 23 Feb 2015 07:07:35 GMT
Days 54-65 Waihi - Part 3 I already talked about the strong mining background of Waihi. The first mining operation started in the late 19th century and after a longer break restarted in the 1980s. The Martha Mine is right in town and quite an impressive view:


The mining trucks look small down in the pit but they are quite massive.


Just a few kilometers out of town is the Karangahake Gorge, an old mine that was closed in the 1950s and now features many historic walks.



The most famous walk is the Windows Walk through the old mining tunnels


They say a torch is recommended, I would say it's mandatory...


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sun, 22 Feb 2015 07:56:45 GMT
Days 54-65 Waihi - Part 2 From Waihi the Coromandel peninsula is easily accessable so we did several trips up there on both sides. The first one on the east coast of Coromandel coincided with the first rainy day since my arrival. Most of the drive up it poured down but on Hahei Beach the rain took a break and we could have lunch and take some pictures:



It quickly started to rain again while we were on our way to the famous Hot Water Beach but again just as we arrived at the beach ready to dig our hole it stopped for a while and so we spent a good hour in a hot pool.

The other day we went up on the west side of Coromandel to Coromandel Town and had more luck with the weather:


A few days later the weather was still fabulous and I joined Robin and his friends for a Kayak trip on the Coromandel coast near Thames:




Paddling next to the road we saw that lucky car just barely hold over the water by branches of the tree. act-NZ-coromandel-kayaking-5act-NZ-coromandel-kayaking-5


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sun, 15 Feb 2015 05:09:48 GMT
Days 54-65 Waihi - Part 1 I already mentioned that my relatives in Waihi are quite distant and it took some time and a call to my grandmother to sort it all out. As it turned out Theo is my Grand Aunt 2. Degree (The cousin of my Grandmother). She and her husband Robin (married for over 60 years!) gave me a warm welcome in their lovely Cottage:




With 6 children, 14 grandchildren and a slowly rising number of great grandchildren their family is huge and well spread over New Zealand, Australia and England.

Waihi is also called the Town with a Heart of Gold due to its strong gold mining history and you see that on every corner:


Got their first hotel back in 1896 and it's still operating:


Waihi Beach is only a 10 minutes drive away so we did a lot of swimming there and if you like a change from the waves there is a beautiful calm bay further down the coast:


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:09:44 GMT
Days 47 - 53 Auckland After just about 22 hours with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur I reached in Auckland. The trip was rather unpleasant due to a snapped ankle which turned out to look quite bad after all the time sitting and walking.


Luckily I decided upfront to stay for 6 nights at this lovely Bed & Breakfast in Beachhaven, so there was enough time to give it some rest.


When I could to some extent walk again I went out to Devonport and visited the old naval fortifications and got some nice views from Mt. Victoria.




Some houses are in exceptional locations directly on the beach...


...or on the cliffs


To get around easily I also bought a car, a good old 1997 Honda Accord and so I was all settled to drive to Waihi and visit some distant relatives.

(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Thu, 05 Feb 2015 06:40:20 GMT
Days 42-46 Roadtrip to Madras My flight out of India approached very quickly so we had to start out for Madras. On the way southwards we spent another night at the lovely Kanker Palace. Next day we went to Jagdalpur and visited the Maharaja of Bastar. He is in Prime Minister Modi's government team and told us that he has the highest security level with 120 men for his personal security. Interestingly enough there were only two hopeless army soldiers casually sitting next to the entry of his palace. You stop wondering why so many Indian politicians got successfully assassinated in the past.

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Near Jagdalpur are also the beautiful Chitrakoot Falls, where we had another stop.

The Tiragarh and the ChitrakotfallsThe Tiragarh and the Chitrakotfalls

Next night we stayed at the Bastar Jungle Resort just outside of Jagdalpur, also belonging to Kanker Palace.

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A whole days drive brought us to Vishnakapatnam, where we stayed in an unexciting beach resort with pathetic food. After watching the waiter take our order we were actually not suprised when our chicken gravy and grilled fish transformed into a grilled chicken.

On the following day 11 hours of driving brought us close enough to the airport to reach there safely on the next morning.

A quick roundup of some facts of the journey:

  • 46 days travelled
  • over 7000 km driven
  • 8 Indian states crossed (Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Telanaga, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu)

And to visualize that:


See you in New Zealand!

(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 04 Feb 2015 04:10:23 GMT
Days 39-41 Bhoramdeo After a nice countryside drive from Kanker northwards we reached the Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat:


The surrounding hills are full of iron ore but luckily there are also 2 tigers so mining is prohibited for the time being.

It is just next to the famous Bhoramdeo Temple, a very old Hindu temple built in the 11th century...


... which has lots of stone carvings all around:



At nighttime it got very cold so a big bonfire was much appreciated:

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(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 21 Jan 2015 04:41:47 GMT
Days 27-38 Kanker Part 2 We met some very interesting people in Kanker, among others an artist who makes a living with wood carvings. Over the course of the last 3 years he spent his spare time to carve the whole New Testament into over 360 wooden plates. What an amazing feat!

Nobody gave him anything for it, he simply did it because he is very fond of Jesus Christ. He himself is a Hindu, married to a Muslim and their children are free to choose their religion. Apparently a very liberal family, there should be more people like them in the World - it would be a much better place.

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He is also working in the local prison and teaching the Naxalites in carving to give them an alternative after they get out of jail. The Naxalites are freedom fighters among the local tribals who target police forces and politicians. Their main problem is the huge amount of iron ore and bauxite which cannot get mined as long as the tribals are living there. A few years ago they managed to kill the whole congress leadership of Chhattisgarh, but now they are slowly loosing ground every year.

One reason for their growing unsuccessfulness is the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in Kanker, which we visited:


Founded in 2005 they train police officers to fight the Naxalites in the jungle. Apparently the training is very successful and converts completely useless and hopeless bribe collectors into skilled fighters.

The Brigadier was so nice to show as around and explain us their strategies they use to approach villages and secure areas.

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They made many signs over the whole compound, a few worth mentioning:

For the tribal only the color of the skin of the saheb has changed

Commandos are the one thing you cannot buy on the market


And in the evenings there was always time to sit at a bonfire:

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(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 17 Jan 2015 22:57:49 GMT
Days 27-38 Kanker Part 1 After leaving Hyderabad we started out for our next destination Kanker, but it was soon foreseeable that it would not be possible to reach at the same day. So evening came and we found a surprisingly appealing hotel in Khammam, one of the biggest chilli exporting areas. Unfortunately the staff spoke neither English nor Hindi so communication was rather difficult but after 15 minutes they finally understood that we want a bed sheet and not an extra bed for 500 rps.

The next day we had a rough 10 hours drive through Chhattisgarh until we reached the famous Kanker Palace:

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The whole royal family was also there for Christmas and New Year:

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The food was delicious to say at least, Jolly (standing in the middle) is a fabulous cook. We started with deer, followed by wildboar and Kadaknath the so called black chicken. These birds are completely black: black plumage with a greenish shine, black legs and toe nails, black beak and tongue, black comb and wattles, black meat and bones and even dark organs. And very tasty. We got them fresh from a farm nearby:

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Luckily during our stay the Madai festival came to Kanker. This festival is celebrated by the tribes of Kanker and Bastar to worship local God(dess). It travels through the Kanker, Bastar and Dantewada regions from December to March each year. The procession comes to the palace to pay their respect to the royal family and invite them to lead the procession to their temples.



These are the Madais, symbols for their Gods:


Not everybody can carry a Madai, the porters are carefully selected.


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Fri, 16 Jan 2015 22:26:49 GMT
Days 23-26 Boulders, Hampi & Hyderabad After driving the whole day and after a long search on narrow roads between rice fields we reached the Boulders Resort near Hampi. It is a unique place with only a few buildings in a huge compound including a nice river going right through. From no room you can see any other building. This was the view from our room - the Rockhouse

View from the RockhouseView from the Rockhouse

They also have a room in a cave on top of a hill. A good 20 minutes walk over rough terrain from the reception and restaurant area. But in return you get this view from your bedroom:

Aereal View of BouldersAereal View of Boulders

The view from another room right on the river:

View from a room in BouldersView from a room in Boulders

And the pool is a natural stone pool:

The Pool at BouldersThe Pool at Boulders

The next day we went to Hampi, a village that is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. These days you can only get a glimpse on the former majesty this city must have radiated.

This used to be the Royal Enclave:

Royal Enclave at HampiRoyal Enclave at Hampi

The Virupakshatemple:

The Virupakshatemple in HampiThe Virupakshatemple in Hampi

The Vitthalatemple:

Vitthalatemple HampiVitthalatemple Hampi

The outer wall of the Ramatemple:

Outer Wall of Ramatemple,HampiOuter Wall of Ramatemple,Hampi

The Lotus Mahal in the Royal Enclave:

LotusMahal at HampiLotusMahal at Hampi

Our next destination Kanker was quite far away so we chose Hyderabad for a stopover. The last Nizam of Hyderabad was considered the richest man in the world, his wealth was not assessable. But most of his wealth just disappeared after the Indian Army annexed his state in 1948 - killing over 200,000 civilians in the progress.

Unfortunately I got terribly stomach sick and had to spend one whole day in the hotel, so we could not visit anything except a pathetic museum which is not worth mentioning.

(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Thu, 15 Jan 2015 23:01:52 GMT
Days 20-22 The Hermitage Guesthouse We continued our journey to Karnataka, where we had to drive on disastrous roads and then for about 3 km off the road straight into the jungle to reach the Hermitage Guesthouse. It is completly surrounded by reserved forest.

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Dave, the owner of this place, bought it in 1980 to retreat from the already crowded cities. In the first few years he and his wife were completely cut off during monsoon, there was no way out so they had to live off the forest for about 3 months. Their next neighbours are a tribal village a few kilometers away where they get day labourers to help them out.

Electrified in 1986 they are still on different power schedules every week. That means 4 hours of electricity either from 6-10, 10-2 or 2-6. In the evening they get just enough for the lights and with the help of inverters and generators they can keep a fridge running permanently.

They got a landline just a few years ago, so before that they had to drive a few kilometers to their so called "phone hill" to make phone calls.

When they started hosting guests in 2001 their daughter was studying in Australia and took care of all booking inquiries.

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Apart from relaxing we also went for a nice hike through the jungle:

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(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 14 Jan 2015 00:08:58 GMT
Days 11-19 Goa - Part 2 Besides the already mentioned good food there is a lot more in Goa to enjoy and discover. The coastline is mainly populated by Christians so there are quite a few churches:

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Currently there is also the exposition of the Sacred Relics of St. Francis Xavier, which happens only every ten years. There are many stories and rumours about the body, once a woman bit off a toe during an exposition. Surprisingly it is also highly crowded by Hindus and even Muslims.

On another day we visited the Braganza house in Chandor...

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...and Donna Lourdes in her house in Loutolim. She has priceless antiques but is very reluctant about people taking pictures in her house to not invite robberies. So we could not photograph the dining room for 100 people and the impressive drawing room. She told us about the constant decline in Goa since the invasion and annexation by India and how Nehru and later Indira Gandhi were constantly trying to get hold of their property. Up to today the Indian Government is keen on it, so when her sister died she had to come back from Portugal or it would all be gone by now.

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There are many more beautiful houses like this one in Siolim:


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And of course the beaches:

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Don't forget the restaurants:

tom-GOA-nostalgia-1 copytom-GOA-nostalgia-1 copy tom-GOA-panjim-venite-luiz-1 copytom-GOA-panjim-venite-luiz-1 copy And there was always time for a swim in the pool:

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(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 03 Jan 2015 09:02:04 GMT
Days 11-19 Goa - Part 1 I've never seen so sound streets in India as on the way to Goa. All with proper markings and countless street signs and (randomly placed) zebra crossings. Of course it would not be India if the signs made much sense as a good country road had a speed limit of 30 km/h while it went up to 50 km/h in the villages.

Now one last thing about Maharashtra, the food is pathetic and with every place with visited it got more pathetic. In Ganapatipule the chicken dishes should have been called chickenbones occasionally with traces of meat. So we looked very forward to the famous culinary highlights in Goa. Consequently our first stop in the early afternoon was at Café Lila - a german restaurant. They have beef goulasch with spaetzle, berlin curry sausages, roulades and all kind of food you don't get anywhere else in India.

Next stop was the Oxford Hypermarket to buy some beverages and cookies. It is not a Supermarket. It is a Hypermarket. One of the many examples where India has adopted something and made it even greater - or hyper in this case.

Then we proceeded to our hosts, where we could stay at this beautiful old goanese house:

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They still have a traditional kitchen...


...a classic drawing room...

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...and a nice little garden in the inner courtyard:

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(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Tue, 30 Dec 2014 06:29:03 GMT
Days 9-10 Ganapatipule On our further way we passed by the most beautiful city of Mahad, which was found as one of the ten most polluted places in the world back in 2007. Now the recent WHO Report does not list it as one of the 20 most polluted cities on earth but India is still the dominating country with 13 cities on the list.

Congruously China just proposed to outsource their dirtiest industries to India, as this would be great for the further development and growth of India.

After arrvial in Ganapatipule we choose a resort directly on the beach but nevertheless approved by M. T. D. C. (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation). Generally it is strictly prohibited to build anything within 500m to the beach but clever Indians find their way around and build only one solid wall and 3 very thin ones so it is only a temporary structure. We had a solid wooden bungalow anyway which was at no cost legal.

Nearby was the very appealing Fun, Adventure and Water Sports Park:

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On other places the beach was considerably nicer:

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First thing we visited the Jaigad fort:

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The main attraction is the Swayambhu of Ganesha, a hill wich is considered a manifestation of his belly. There are two smaller Swayambhus on opposite sides of the hill, one where they built a temple around it and another one which is less frequented.

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(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 27 Dec 2014 09:00:55 GMT
Days 7-8 Janjira Today we had our first casualties on the road. Two enemy contacts which resulted in a slightly damaged side mirror and a long black trace on the left side as well as one dead chicken in a nameless village.
We couldn't stop and collect the chicken for dinner as there was a woman running in frenzy after the car for no obvious reason.

Our next destination after Matheran was Janjira where the Nawab has invited us. Janjira used to be a small princely state at the coast of Maharashtra ruled by the dynasty of Sidis which originated from Africa. Of course now this is only a distant memory and the title of Nawab is officially not existing anymore.

It was quite an odyssey driving through the Maharashtrian hinterland and up and down the coast to find the place as well as any appealing hotel nearby. For neither the map nor the navigation system gave much insight on the road network in that area. Remember to make sure you always have a majority of 2 from the 3 sources of information (maps, navigation system, local people)

The meeting with the Nawab was set for the next day and beforehand was some time to visit the Janjira Fort which is located in the sea and only accessable by sailing boat.

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As you can see on the pictures the fort is slowly falling appart and will sooner or later complete collapse. There seems to be no effort of conservation.

Next we proceeded to the Janjira Palace where the Nawab still lives to date and had a nice chat with him and his school friend Pradip, not without taking a picture in the drawing room and one of his palace:

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Then we continued to our next stop Ganapatipule, but time was not enough till darkness so we had to stay in a hotel by the road.

For those of you who have never been to India the idea of hesitating to drive at night might seem extraordinary but it is hard to tell what's more dangerous...the constant use of the full beam as an attempt to blind you or the vehicles with no light whatsoever.


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Fri, 26 Dec 2014 10:02:41 GMT
Days 4-6 Matheran Our next stop was Matheran, a hill station on a plateau near Bombay. It was discovered and developed by the British to be a place of retreat during the very hot summer months and still serves this purpose mainly for the citizens of nearby Bombay.

After 4 hours drive we reached the car park from where we had to continue on foot. No cars are allowed to enter the plateau, as well as no Motorbikes or even bicycles (thanks to the horse lobby).
Only a train is going up to the village, but most goods are transported by horses.

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After a good 1 hour walk we reached our hotel just to hear that it is fully booked, even though it looked quite empty to us. Well we also couldn't call upfront because nobody picked up the phone during the last few days. That lead to a "friendly" discussion and finally the guy went away to double-check. Suddenly there were two free rooms from which we could choose.
Maybe they didn't want to give away the room we choose because they first had to change two light bulbs inside which is obviously quite an effort for the staff.

The hotel was actually a old restored house:

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We spent 3 nights in Matheran with hiking through the jungle, exploring some old ruinous and not so ruinous houses and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of a very remote place.

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(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:24:50 GMT
Days 2+3 - Bombay or Breakfast in the afternoon After sleeping for more than 11 hours I was well rested and only needed a little patience to wait for the breakfast. At 1 pm it was finally the right time to eat some tasty "ukrainian eggs":

Breakfast day 2Breakfast day 2

Arguably not a very typical Indian breakfast but there is still enough time to eat local food!

I spent the rest of my time in Bombay creating this blog and played the piano of our lovely hosts, which is by the way the first working piano I ever found on all my trips through India (not counting a little keyboard for kids). Last time in Gujarat I even stumbled over a real Steinway but of course it was totally out of tune and covered with a big layer of dust:


I'm glad we could stay with Sonya and her 3 daughters at a place in Bombay where you could totally forget that you are indeed in a big, polluted city which is the home of more than 20 million people with a population density of over 20,000/km² (Munich: 1.4 million, 4500/km²)

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Even when I found it almost unbearable hot, with only around 35° C during noon they are already predicting a cold and hard winter coming.

(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Wed, 10 Dec 2014 06:44:04 GMT
Day 1 - Arrival or The Death of an Elephant After I got out of the airport and met my dad I was very excited to see his new car. Apparently the old White Elephant has just died two days before the new one arrived. On this occasion it would be fair to give a shoutout to Mahindra for kindly sponsoring the new White Elephant (or White Elephant 2.0 how we IT guys would call him).

A Scorpio VLX 4WD:


As it turned out the old Elephant died last week after 172888 km in Dungarpur, which was coincidentally also the destination of his very first drive 8 years ago. During that time this car was in every state of India as well as in Burma and Nepal.

RIP Safed Haathi:


The Maharajkumar of Dungarpur showed interest in funding a book about the long journey of the White Elephant as well as reviving him for his car museum when he heard about this special connection to Dungarpur. So this might very well not be the end.

In the new car we drove directly to Sonya and her family, where we could stay for the weekend. Read more about them in the next post.

(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 29 Nov 2014 11:59:03 GMT
Day 0 - Departure or Real nerds start counting at 0 I started my long journey at the Terminal 1 Munich Airport. Apparently on Thursday Evening there are no more than 1-2 flights per hour in Terminal 1 so it was very much uncrowed. My flight to Muscat at 10 pm was almost empty as well so this was probably the quickest check in, security check and boarding I ever experienced.

Speaking of the flight I can definitly recommend Oman Air, I never had so much space for my feet before. And I got a nice sleeping set with high quality earplugs:

Oman Air Sleeping SetOman Air Sleeping Set

Only the WiFi during the flight was quite expensive... 15$ for 10MB, so I passed on that one.

The stepover in Muscat was not worth mentioning despite the fact that they have a different system for assigning gates to the flights. Instead of using the one printed on the boarding pass they have several guys constantly shouting which flight uses which gate.

I arrived in Bombay in time and it seemed my airport luck did not end yet, because my bag was among the first few pieces of luggage already circulating at the luggage claim. Technically this is now already day 1 so consider the last sentence a sneak peak on the next entry.


And if you want to know how to stack your whole household in a 7m² storage room this can give you a first inspiration:

Storage RoomStorage Room

There is still a lot of space left on the right side!


(Safed Haathi) 400 Days at the End of the World Sat, 29 Nov 2014 07:54:12 GMT