Tag Archives: scenic

Flying over the Blue Hole, Belize

 

Being someone who rarely splurges money when on holiday, preferring cheap or free activities, the US$200 for the 1-hr scenic flight over the Blue Hole in Belize seemed the result of a moment of madness.
Yet I had chosen this option because I had heard that as a snorkeller, and not a diver, the Blue Hole would be a disappointing experience and not worth the 2+ hour one-way boat ride. Plus, we only live once hey!

What is the Blue Hole, though? It is a giant submarine sinkhole (like a cenote in the ocean) off the coast of Belize. The hole is circular in shape, over 300m across and 125m deep. The world’s largest natural formation of its kind, the Blue Hole is part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The tour agency I had chosen for this teamed me up with two other female travellers – a minimum of three people is required for a scenic flight to be arranged and I had contacted the agency via email prior to my arrival.

The small 4-seater plane picked us up at the Caye Caulker airstrip, at the southern end of the island. The pilot, very friendly Mr Hoy, briefly ran us through the security basics and the itinerary. Twenty minutes to get to the Blue Hole, fly twice around the Hole from the left, twice from the right, twice across the middle, then return. All so exciting!

I sat in the cockpit, next to the pilot. And we took off.
The view of Caye Caulker and its reef from above was amazing but it was only when we got to the reef around the Blue Hole that my jaw dropped. The pilot kept tilting the aircraft to a 90degree angle and my stomach started suffering. But the view from above was spectacular! The Blue Hole stands out within the reef because of its dark blue colour and its circular shape. We went round it a few times, descending very close to the water at times. It felt as if we could almost touch it. Such an incredible feeling!

On the way back we circled around a shipwreck stuck in the reef. The photo opportunities certainly didn’t lack.

When I saw the straight line of the Caye Caulker airstrip appearing in the distance I was sad that the flight was over. But it had indeed been worth every cent spent on it!

An afternoon between Killarney and Kenmare, Ireland

I didn’t expect to find the sun in Ireland. Ireland is green for a reason: the (very) frequent rain. I found the sun instead.

Based in southwestern Ireland for a few days, on a lovely Saturday afternoon I was taken for a drive around County Kerry to discover some of its towns and beautiful scenery. Main focus: the area around Killarney and Kenmare.

Killarney (or Cill Airne in Irish – all road signs and town names are in both English and Irish Gaelic) is a popular tourist destination in County Kerry. The Killarney National Park, with its  beautiful scenery and opportunities for cycling and hiking, together with the region’s history, is the main attractions for tourists here.

Panorama from Ladies View, Killarney
Irish scenery

Kenmare (or An Neidín), a lovely heritage town, is also very popular with tourists and is located about 32Km from Killarney.

House in Kenmare
House in Kenmare
Street in Kenmare, Ireland
One of the main streets in Kenmare
Pub in Kenmare, Ireland
Enjoying the sun
Pub sign in Kenmare, Ireland
Pub sign

Road N71 connects Killarney and Kenmare, is part of the Ring of Kerry, and is a very scenic drive through mountains and forests and past beautiful lakes. There is hardly any public transport here so the best way to visit the area – and the one that gives you the most freedom – is driving a car or a motorbike. I would not recommend cycling as the road is quite narrow and drivers speed up a lot. Said that, there were several cyclists when I visited…

View along the Ring of Kerry
View along the Ring of Kerry
Sheep and lakes in countryside Ireland
The Irish landscape is not complete without sheep…

There are several viewpoints along the N71, one of the best ones being the Ladies View: stop here for a coffee and enjoy a stroll with view over the Lakes of Killarney down in the valley!

Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View
Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View

Muckross House&Gardens is another nice stop along the route. Located 6Km from Killarney, this mansion was built in 1843 and is surrounded by beautiful gardens leading to a lake. It also has traditional farms, craft shops, and cafes. On a beautiful sunny day, there is no better place where to enjoy the weather!

Muckross House Gardens, Killarney, Ireland
Muckross House Gardens
Muckross House, Killarkey, Ireland
Muckross House