To Push, Pull or Carry My Golf Bag – That Is The Question

golf-cartsAs readers of this blog will know I started playing golf last year and have subsequently become a full-on golf nut! Much to my wife’s chagrin!

When I started out last year I only had a few clubs which I carried in a pencil bag or what some call Sunday golf bag. These were fun (and light times), but as I have improved my golf game, I have slowly kitted myself out with loads of new gear. In fact last week I treated myself to the new Callaway Epic Driver! Yes Please…

My set now consists of a full 14 clubs, and amazingly I am still able to get 12 of them in my pencil bag.

Nonetheless I have now decided to upscale and get a new golf bag.

The issue that faces me is whether I should go for a standard stand bag or for a cart bag. If I go for the latter then I will of course need to purchase a cart as well. Nowadays, carts come in two broad designs – golf push carts and golf pull carts.

Deciding which type of golf bag to go with has been pretty easy as I’m not that keen to schlep 14 heavy clubs around a golf course on my back. Basically, a cart bag beats a stand bag for me!

But the issue of whether I should go for a push or pull cart has been challenging. It seems the older generation prefer the push variation, whereas the younger generation (who are generally on trend) prefer the pull variation.

I am neither old nor young so I’m a little torn. Or was a little torn until I got the chance to use my mates new Clicgear 3.5+ golf cart. This cart is simply amazing. It consists of three wheels (one in the front and two at the bag), is super lightweight (seriously I was shocked how light this cart is) and folds up into a tiny storable cube!

clicgear-golf-push-cart

The best part about it is how easy it makes manoeuvring around the golf course. In some crazy way it even feels like there is an electric element to it.

Suffice to say that after 18 holes of golf I was completely sold on this push cart and immediately went to the pro-shop to purchase it. It is definitely not the cheapest option but in my summation it is the best!

For those of your who play golf I highly recommend giving the Clicgear 3.5+ push cart a whirl. I’m convinced you won’t go back to pushing or carrying!

If you are not convinced yet check out the review on Golf Guide for Beginners, or see this cool unboxing and review video below.

Right, back to the range for me. Will post again soon…

Top 7 tips for hiking the Everest Base Camp Trek

everest-trek-to-base-campThe Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the ultimate treks in Nepal, offering hikers the chance to stand at the foot of the world’s tallest mountain.

The scenery, people and culture that hikers witness is quite simply second to none and anyone who makes the journey will remember the experience for the rest of their lives.

So, to help you get the most out of the trek, we have listed my top 7 tips for hiking the Everest Base Camp Trek.

1. Sit on the left side of the plane on your flight into Lukla:

The flight into Lukla is a truly exhilarating experience and you’ll be amazed (and worried) but how short the landing strip is! However, make sure you sit on the left side of the plane if you can to get the incredible views of Mount Everest as you fly in!

2. Purchase/rent gear in Kathmandu:

Purchasing your trekking gear in Kathmandu can save you a lot of money. Trekking gear is not cheap and there are a while host of outdoor shops in Kathmandu that have a wide range of bargains!

3. Bring some snacks

There are teahouse dotted along your route. However these places only provide meals and you’ll need some sustenance to keep your energy levels up on the trail. So bring some energy bars to snack on during the day!

4. Keep your batteries close to your body:

Taking pictures and videos of your experience is a must! However, because of the cold your batteries will loose charge very quickly. It is therefore advised to keep them close to your body to so they stay as warm as possible.

5. Bring a book:

The long hiking days will often leave you exhausted and you’ll just want to crash in your bed and read for a few hours. We always advise bringing a mountaineering book or two such as Touching the Void or Into Thin Air.

6. Take your time:

Altitude sickness is a real risk on the Everest Base Camp Trek. There is no cure and you will have to ascend very slowly to avoid getting it. Remember to descend quickly if symptoms appear.

7. Yaks and Sherpas have right of way:

You’ll most likely come across yak trains and sherpas carrying heavy gear. When you do, step off the path and give them a good deal of space as you don’t want to be kicked off a cliff!

We hope these tips have helped you. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself on the trail!

For a full website on trekking to Everest Base Camp see this guide.

Good luck!

Top Three Treks in Bhutan

bhutanA land lost in time, Bhutan is a nation of happiness, a nation of flamboyance, vibrancy, remoteness and quiet valleys.

Although one of the remotes countries on earth, Bhutan is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best trekking destinations in the world. It’s not hard to see why, with less than 40,000 tourists crossing here border each year, Bhutan’s trekking trails are incredibly quiet and beautiful. Unlike Nepal (that gets over a million tourists a year), Bhutan’s trails still feel remote and off the beaten path.

Top help you decide on the best trek, we have listed our top three favourites below!

The Snowman Trek

Often believed to be the most difficult trek on earth, the Snowman Trek is definitely a huge challenge. However, it is also one of the most beautiful and astounding treks on the planet and experienced hikers will have the time of their lives. The trek straddles the mountain region between Bhutan and Tibet and takes trekkers over 11 passes over 4,500 meters! You’ll trek below enormous mountains, visit lost villages and explore the remote kingdom of Lunana – not to mention getting some of the best views in the world! See more information here.

The Druk Path Trek

Ideal for beginners, the Druk Path Trek begins in Paro and takes its trekkers over the local mountain range that separates Paro from the capital city of Thimphu. The trail is gorgeous and you’ll come across flowering rhododendrons, alpine forests and some perfect alpine lakes with famously large trout! Perfect introductory trek to Bhutan that allows you to explore the wilderness and the local culture on offer.

The Chomolhari Trek

The Chomolhari Trek is ideal for people who want to experience some true wilderness trekking at high altitude. The trail focuses on taking you towards Mount Chomolhari where you camp at base camp. You cross over several passes to reach what is often termed the “Bride of Kangchenjunga”. Chomolharis is famous for its high vertical relief that rises sharple for almost 2,700 meters! The trek is one of incredible mountain views and trekkers cross over both Nyele La pass at 4850m (16000 feet) and Yale Pass at 4950m (16,240 feet). See more information here.

Top 3 Most Adventurous Cruises on Earth

AntarcticaThe word ‘cruising’ conjures up images of middle aged couples sipping champagne on their deck chairs as they await the nightly buffet and cinema screening.

However, there is another cruising industry lurking in the shadows that looks down upon such stereotypical and mundane ideas of cruise holidays. Its name is expedition cruising.

Taking off in recent years, expedition cruises offer an altogether different experience from the sunbathing, robe wearing antics of the Caribbean style cruises. Expedition cruises take their guests to parts of the world few have ventured, areas where the seas and landscapes are cold, unforgiving and most certainly dangerous. In fact, it’s almost an insult to call it ‘cruising’. What it should be called is ‘adventure by boat’ or something very similar.

To give you an idea of these cruises, we have listed our top 3 adventure cruises below!

The Northwest Passage

For hundreds of years, adventurous humans have died in the attempt to cross the fabled Northwest Passage.

In fact, until only recently, the crossing was seen as impossible, a mythical link route between the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Not anymore.

With changing climates, adventure cruises now stalk the cool waters between the two oceans and outdoor lovers will be thrilled and amazed at the landscape on offer.

See polar bears and visit ancient Inuit communities as you follow in the footsteps of notorious explorers. Not many people on earth can say they have sailed this particular passage!

Prices start at around $600 per night.

The North Pole

The North Pole is unchartered territory. It’s one of the least explored destinations on earth and you certainly won’t come across many other people who have been there!

Adventure cruise operators have only recently started offering the North Pole as a destination and cruise goers can witness the austere and expansive wilderness of the region from the safety of their ship.

Several of the most popular cruise itineraries in the region are the Lofoten Islands and the northernmost fjords of Norway. Both offer exceptional landscapes, Northern Lights and a wide array of wildlife including Polar bears, sea birds and walruses!

Antarctica

A land unlike any other, a land that many people still believe is unreachable. Yet in 2015 alone, over 35,000 people visited the White Continent!

Tourism has been rising steadily in Antarctica over the years and it’s easy to see why. The landscape is beautiful, endless and brutal. It captivates visitors immediately and conjures up images of another world, an isolated planet of ice and giant whales.

You’ll see stunning icebergs, lounging seals, colonies of seabirds, penguin rookeries and midnight sunsets.

Cruising in Antarctica is not cheap though and the minimum price tag is over $500 per night with the average being nearer a $1,000.

Climbing Island Peak was the toughest thing I have done in years!

island-peak-climbApril was a crazy month for me. I was in Nepal trekking with our team via the standard routes to Goyko and Everest Base Camp (where we spent an amazing night with an expedition team), when we got the crazy idea to climb Island Peak.

Now I am very much a trekker, I have little mountaineering experience, and although I am well versed in the ins and outs of the sport from an ‘academic’ perspective, I am very much a armchair enthusiast.

I knew a lot about Island Peak so was quietly confident that I could do it. I wasn’t concerned about the altitude – which at 6,200m is high – but not nuts! And by this point we were already well acclimatised having been trekking for two weeks about 4,600m with three big 5,500m passes under our belts!

We spent a few days with our really experienced team doing some basic technical training – self arrest, jumar ascending, rappelling etc – and then set of for Island Peak high camp, a really inhospitable place!

Things were going well until we got to the crampon point, which I must say freaked me out a little. Since last years Earthquake there has been a lot of movement on the glacier that leads up to Island Peak’s ice wall. The movement has resulted in two crevasses opening up, which now require a ladder crossing. A character building experience to say the least!

Once you get across the ladders things are pretty straightforward up to the headwall, where again things get a little hairy. The 150m ice wall is heavily jagged and not the easiest thing to ascend. From the summit ridge there is a traverse to the tiny summit with 1000 foot drops on either side. It’s scary but with the help of are incredible climbing team we were able to make it.

The experience on Island Peak was by far the most challenging I have ever had in the Nepal, but all and all I loved it and am now looking at my next peak, climbing Aconcagua!!

We used Kandoo Adventures – find out more about their Island Peak climb here. You can also read about Island Peak here.

Golfing the golf game, ha!

golf-courseWhat game did you think would be the last on my list of games to play… you guessed it, golf! Okay, maybe curling and bowls are also up there.

But golf was certainly one of the games that I thought I would never be drawn to.

Yet, here I am talking about my new passion, playing golf.

It all started at the beginning of 2016 where I was invited to the driving range with a few mates to basically mess about. A good excuse to get together and drink. And drink we did, but we also spend the afternoon hitting white balls around. Now, I had been to the range before but never really got stuck in. This time though we built some competition into the experience – basically we designed a drinking game around how close people could get to the driving range targets.

Never to shy away from a competition I took on the challenge with full vigour and proved to be rather good. In fact half way through the bucket of golf balls I was clearly winning based on my inebriated state.

After the day, which proved to be thoroughly enjoyable, I decided to sneak back to the range by myself that weekend and test whether my performance the week before was just a fluke. I arrange for the local pro to join me and give me some pointers.

Turns out it wasn’t a fluke. I’m a natural. Of course, ha!

So I have spent the last 4 months getting proper instruction from the golf pro at the range and am now hitting the ball like a seasoned veteran. Next week I have my first full 18 hole experience coming up. I have played 9 holes a few times now, and even made a birdie a week ago, so I am really looking forward to seeing how I perform on the big course next week.

I plan to try break 90 which would effectively give me an 18 handicap. My coach thinks it is possible so I am quite confident.

Now I just need to get some clubs. I have been reviewing these irons on Golf Assessor and I’m about ready to make my purchase.

Will keep y’all posted on how I get on with the game next week.

For golf equipment reviews I recommend Golf Assessor.

Great trek options in Nepal

trekking-options-nepal

Tourism is a huge factor in the Nepalese economy and it’s easy to see why. With many of the tallest mountains in the world, thousands of hikers travel to Nepal each year to get their boots worn and muddy on the some of the most dramatic trekking routes on earth. Within Nepal there are two famous trekking regions – Everest and Annapurna, both of which offer unique possibilities as this article will look at.

Annapurna region

Annapurna Circuit trek

One of the most famous treks in the world, the Annapurna trek is a real gem and takes you through some stunning scenery. The trek begins in sub-tropical conditions and then ascends up into the mountains where you trek over the Thorung La pass. From which you get one of the most stunning vistas in the Himalaya! Your trek then ends by hiking down into the Mustang region where it becomes slightly more arid.

Annapurna Sanctuary trek

Another great option, this trek is slightly shorter than the Circuit trek. The Sanctuary trek begins by ascending to the summit of poon Hill where you are rewarded with amazing vistas of the surrounding area.  It then descends down into the ‘sanctuary’ – a deep valley walled on either side by huge mountains.

Poon Hill trek

The Poon Hill trek is ideal for novice hikers or hikers on a tight schedule. It is the shortest route available and takes the same route as the Sanctuary up to the top of Poon Hill to see the incredible views of the Annapurnas, Dhaulagiri and Machhapuchchre.

Everest region

Everest Base Camp trek

With thousands of hikers a year flocking to Everest, this is by far the most popular trek in Nepal. Following in the footsteps of all the great climbers that have come before you to conquer Everest, the trail follows the famous Khumbu Valley towards Base Camp. You’ll pass through beautiful Sherpa villages, steep rocky terrain and take breaks in some of the most authentic teahouses in the country.

Gokyo Lakes trek

If you have a bit more time on your hands then we would suggest taking the Gokyo Lakes trek to Everest Base Camp. This trail is a great way to avoid the crowds, get off the beaten track and see some incredible sights! After leaving the standard trek at Namche, you head towards the lake region where you come across three holy lakes of beautiful blue azure colour. You then trek over the Cho La pass and on towards Base Camp where you can see the Khumbu Icefall up close.

Machu Picchu – Route Options and Recommendations

machu-picchu-trekking-optionsAlthough the Inca Trail is by far the most popular route to Machu Picchu, there are other options.

Sometimes we just want to get away from the crowds and find our own path. The Inca Trail requires you to be accompanied by a licensed tour company and also requires a permit and, whilst this suits many people, others want to go it alone!

We have therefore put together a little list of the possible other route options available. We’ll also conclude by quickly mentioning the Inca Trail itself.

Alternative Machu Picchu treks

Huchuy Qosko – 3 days, 20km trek: This is a relatively easy and short trek that is best attempted between May and September. It offers up great scenery and the Huchuy Qosko ruins a well worth a look.

Choquequirao – 9 days, 69km trek: This is the longest trek up to Machu Picchu and is best attempted in the dry season between May and September. The Choquequirao ruins are a great thing to see and this particular trek can be shortened or lengthened depending on energy levels. Read more about Choquequirao.

Lares – 4 days, 33 km trek: This little trod trek is a great way to get away from the crowds! You’ll be able to immerse yourselves in the local culture and get up close and personal with the locals.

Salkantay – 5 days, 55km trek: This is a fairly tough trek at high altitude. Like the Lares trail, the Salkantay trail is one of the least busy treks to Machu Picchu. The reward for this tough trek is getting up close to Nevada Salkantay.

Junge – 4 days, 60km (cycle) 15km (trek): Great trek for the thrill seekers as it has a super-fast downhill cycle track! Also includes a zipwire and rafting if that’s your cup of tea!

Vilcabamba – 5 days, 62km trek: Probably the toughest trek to Machu Picchu, the Vilcabamba trail is for experienced backpackers and offers up incredible scenery!

The Inca Trail Variations

Classic – 4days, 45km trek: The Classic trail is of course the most popular. Great for people with a sense of history as this was the original pilgrimage trail when Machu Picchu was a functioning site. Includes a lot of steps! Remember to book early as permits sell out months in advance!

Short – 2 days, 13km trek: Ideal for the trekker looking to understand the Inca Trail without so much of the effort.

Salkantay (combo) – 6 days, 65km trek: The ultimate option! Combining both treks to make a beautiful trail that flows through the ancient trail and also the mountains.

Here’s a packing list for the Inca Trail – http://www.gogreenfuel.biz/machu-picchu/the-hiking-clothes-you-should-take-on-the-inca-trail/

Click here for a recommended Machu Picchu tour operator.

Routes on Kilimanjaro – Which one is right for you?

kilimanjaro-routesThere are seven official routes on Kilimanjaro. In this short article we describe each and provide recommendations on those routes which are best suited for acclimatisation and hence have high summit success rates.

You can find more information on Kilimanjaro routes here: http://www.kandooadventures.com/information/africa/climb-kilimanjaro/kilimanjaro-routes/

Kilimanjaro Routes

Machame Route

The Machame route departs from the South-west side of the mountain, at about 1,800m. The route follows a 6 or 7-day trail via the southern circuit to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Today the Machame route is one of the most popular routes as it has high summit success rates. The seven day route is most sort after for it’s good acclimatisation profile. The route includes a good climb high, sleep low profile at Lava Tower and a technical scramble up the Great Barranco Wall. We recommend this route!

Lemosho Route

The Lemosho route starts from the far west side of Kilimanjaro, where the trail is relatively wild and quiet. The route for the first two days is not busy at all. On day the Lemosho converges with the Machame and then follows the southern circuit via Lava Tower, Barranco, Karanga and Barafu to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Again, we recommend this route!

Shira Route

The Shira Route begins north of the Lemosho trailhead, at nearly 2,800m altitude. The route was the originally western approach but has now been nearly totally supersede by the Lemosho. Because it has such a high start point we do not recommend the Shira route. Many trekkers on this route suffer from early symptoms of altitude sickness.

Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the only trail that begins from the north of Kilimanjaro, near the Kenyan border. The route is great for the rainy season (Apr, May) as the north side of Kilimanjaro receives less rain and is hence dryer. The begining portion is flatter, but the summit assault passage via Gilman’s Point is relatively steep and tough going. We think the 7-day version of this route is a good option and recommend it.

Umbwe Route

The most direct route up Kilimanjaro, departing from the south side of the mountain. A tough little route as it doesn’t provide much time for acclimatisation. Best used in conjunction with the Western Breach assault passage by experienced trekkers.

Marangu Route

This is the only route on Kilimanjaro with hut accommodation and the same ascent and descent profile. It is best used by novice trekkers, although the 5-day option has very low summit success rates. We recommend the 6-day option only.

Northern Circuit

The Northern Circuit is the newest and longest route on Kilimanjaro. Beginning on the Lemosho trail, the route veers north on day 4 around the northern circuit of Kilimanjaro. A long and very wild route that is perfect for the experienced trekker.

Click the link for more information on how and when to climb kilimanjaro.

You can also find out how to get to Kilimanjaro here.

Packing List for Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit

ebc-packing-listWhen you ponder what to bring with you on an Annapurna Circuit trek or Everest Base Camp trek, you will be limited to 15kg – 33-and-a-third lbs – for the flight to Lukla or Pokhara (although buses have no limit), so it will be something you have thought of much. You will understand why there is such a low weight limit when you catch glimpse of the aeroplane and airport. Clothing is dealt with elsewhere.

For sure, you will see days from one shower to the next, and you are going to perspire. You will have to live with the fact that you are going to smell unwholesome, although it is less bad given that everybody else will smell the same. Toiletries you will require are toilet paper, and plenty of it, because there is precious little chance of finding any at a tea house; wet wipes since the water will be too cold for washing; SPF50 sun cream; deodorant; a razor, if you happen to be male; toothbrush and toothpaste; soap; shampoo; hand sanitiser; and a medical kit. The medical kit should contain surgical tape; plasters; neosporin; nail clippers; imodium; ifuprofen; and diamox. 12 diamox tablets, taken for altitude sickness, will cost around $4 in Kathmandu, much less than the price of a UK prescription. And to go with these, you will want a quick dry towel.

The electronics you will need are an iPad for the uploading of photographs; an iPhone that will even work from time to time; headphones; a camera; and chargers. Taking a solar-powered battery pack instead of a charger will save you money, as electricity must be paid for.

A Steripen purifies water and is a sound addition to your equipment, considering that water purification tablets normally require 30 minutes to take effect and taste none-too-good. You will take a small bag which your porter will carry and a daypack and cover you will carry yourself. There is a call for a pair of water bottles, one of the Nalgene variety for easy Steripen use and one that is Swix style and made of metal which can be used as a hot water bottle at night. Another very useful item is a Camelbak, which sits in your daypack and allows you to hydrate, hands-free. A silk sleep sheet or sleeping bag liner will prevent your bedding from stinking too much. You will feel the need for a headlamp when you visit the toilet in the dead of night or read after lights out. Nighttime toilet visits will be inevitable if you take diamox. You can use playing cards and a book to amuse yourself in the evenings. You are sure to wish to write about your activities, for which you should take a journal and pen.

Finally, energy, granola or chocolate bars will provide you with calories as you hike. Trekking poles are certain to be vital for steep ascents. And you will want a facemask for when the air gets very dusty, as it certainly will.

More information for each trek can be found here:

Here more information from Nepal’s Mountaineering Association.