Category Archives: Photos

North India road-trip – The Photo Album

This is it. Our time in India is almost over, and we are leaving the Himalayas today.

After the retreat, we could enjoy the Dharamsala countryside, visiting waterfall, temples including beautiful Norbulingka, craftsmanship centers and a beautiful Tibetan school, all under the lovely monsoon weather (I think we didn’t see the sun even once;-)

 

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Norbulingka gardens and temple near Dharamsala

This area of India was definitely the most peaceful once, and it was great again to see all those communities living together in peace. It was also quite moving to see this Tibetan community thriving here, perpetuating the Tibetan culture and arts, with the desire to be able to go back one day in Tibet, be it a free country, or an autonomous province within China, the “middle-way” proposed by the Dalai-Lama. With their many monks & nuns and living compassion culture across all ages, the Tibetan people are a living exemple of what world peace & love should be.

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Norbulingka Buddhist temple

We will be back here one day!

Please find the complete North India road-trip photo album here, with the best pictures of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himichala states we visited.

And below a quick snapshot of the last days in Mc Leod Ganj. Now heading back to New-Dehli before taking-off for Europe!

May Tibetans we able to return their home country any time soon!

 

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All together in Cochin!

The whole family is back together in Cochin !

Delphine finished her Ayurvedic retreat in the north of Kerala, and she arrived the same day as us for a short 3 days stay in that old colonial city that has a lot of charm like the rest of Kerala. Chinese fishing nets along the coast, many religious buildings with the same beautiful chants happening all day long (before and after sunset), local spices and food markets, and the vibrant indian lifestyle at every street corner.

Our stay in the south of India was truly fantastic, and we have been delighted by the peaceful, spiritual and welcoming atmosphere. Everywhere, people gave us big smiles and kind attention.

We will certainly be back one day to immerse ourselves deeper into this wonderful culture. We love India!

Now heading to the north of India and it’s megalopolis: Delhi!

Kerala: God’s own country

Kerala is known as “God’s own country” as it is the Indian state with the most religious diversity… and tolerance. Hindou temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosquee are often located within the same village area with a few meters between them, enchanting the atmosphere with religious chants often happening at the same time (even if it sometimes leads to a loudspeaker volume competition;-)

After our Yoga retreat in Varkala, we went north to Kollam to visit the ancient colonial city that saw Portuguese collons, followed by Dutch and the British… The backwaters, a long laguna between the ocean and the forest, stretching from Kollam to Kochin, are also a beautiful area to explore as it allows to approach nature and people from a very quiet perspective.

Kollam was also the starting point for a big surprise for Jade’s birthday…

Indeed, we had a “Kettu Vallam“, a traditional house-boat, coming right next to our guest-house, and she had to do just a few meters to jump onto that beautiful boat that we hired just for us to take an unconventional route, from Kollam to Kochin, going through natural lagoons, lakes and man-made canals.
And it was a good idea, as it is known that more than 500 Kettu Valams cruise around Allepey, leading to water-traffic-jams that pollute the experience, and we didn’t see any until we arrived… in Allepey😉

On the way, we have seen beautiful small villages with people literally “living with the river”, from fishing to washing, small hidden temples and churches, India’s Green Venice on Munroe island, holy places such as Amma’s Ashram where people from all over the world come seeking for enlightenment (which is internal peace and love), fishermen markets, and much more…

A deep immersion into Kerala’s nature, lifestyle and culture!

Here is a snapshot, and the full photo album below:

The full photo album is available here.

The video is on its way!

 

 

 

Melbourne to Sydney road-trip

We left Melbourne with a pretty bad weather, and we were impatient to find some sun on the road to Sydney!

We stopped in the beautiful Wilson’s Promontory park where we could see plenty wildlife: Kangaroos, Wallibies, Ostriches, dozens of birds including the famous laughing Kookaburras (that do indeed laugh), and the cutest animal ever: Wombats! This place is truly amazing, and off-season, we could have it for ourselves. But the weather still being cold, we headed straight to Sydney!

The road was quite tiring, with Kangaroos jumping in front of the car, and unfortunately, dozens lying dead along the road, together with Wombats that also suffer from these roads cutting their habitat…

We arrived in Sydney where we had to deal with a number of issues, like a dead computer, and getting visas for India, which took 2 days, 3 attempts, and 8 hours total in the worst bureaucratic private company we had ever seen. We still hoping to get those visas on time!

Appart from those usual world traveler duties, we could enjoy what must be one of the coolest city in the world: young, dynamic, cosmopolitan, and surrounded by nature! We could attend the kickoff of the Vivid Festival, an amazing Light show across the city where the main buildings are transformed in art at night.

But the highlight was certainly our 2 days in the Blue Mountains. We initially were a bit scared by the proximity of the Highway that is getting people into this “World Heritage” natural park, but once you leave one of the numerous lookouts along the highway, you really quickly enter beautiful nature, and despite the crowds and dozens of tourists’ buses (mostly Chinese tourists) arriving there, we could do two hikes almost alone, as we were of course taking the “off the beaten track” trails, including the 3 sisters rock trail that is revealed only to those daring the 900+ steep stairs going down!

We could also meet our good friend Tom, the Marketing Director of South Pole Group, the company that we used to offset our Carbon footprint. We had passionate debates about Carbon compensation and how the world should move to go towards a more sustainable economy. The conclusions were not too enthusiastic, but we are still doing our best to travel with the lowest possible today.

We are now heading to the Gold coast and Sunshine coast, and we hope they are well named, because cold weather stuck in a camper-van is not fun (see Jade’s latest video telling all the truth;-) !

Here is the Melbourne To Sydney Photo Album with some highlights below!

Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road

We spent our first week in Australia! We started the journey by living the Melbourne city life! We visited the second city in the country, a vibrant and cosmopolitan urban area that looked a bit like a New-York of the Southern Hemisphere, close to the ocean. At night, we could attend an Australian Football match (Aussie Rules), sitting next to hordes of fanatics of this unique game (mixing many other sports like football, rugby, basketball and cricket) played only in Australia, and very popular in the south of the island (in other places, Rugby is the n°1 game…). That was real fun, and the kids were happy to get back to some “civilized lifestyle” (as they say) after a month in the NZ wild!


We then took the road to the “Great Ocean Road” east of Melbourne, a famous drive along a wild coast of limestone cliffs assaulted by storms and huge waves all year long! We could see the 12 Apostles (actually just 7) under a storm which was creating a dramatic atmosphere… And it was as somebody died, probably of a hearth attack, when we arrived at the viewing point. Sad, and a bit of a weird start of the Aussie trip as we saw the day before somebody trying to jump from the roof of a church (hopefully aborted), and we avoided a car driving on the wrong side of the freeway! We will pay extra -attention for the rest of driving here!


We also visited the Otway Cape, the second southernmost cape of the country, watching the storm from the oldest lighthouse in crazy wind. Around that point, the family did a great walk in the forsest and witnessed many birds, kangaroos that were jumping too fast to be photographed, and adorable koalas (that are easier photo subjects).


We concluded this road trip in Victoria (the name of this southern state of Australia) by stopping in world famous Bell’s Beach, the former epicenter of the surfing community and industry as several major surf brands were born here. Could catch the end of a nice swell, surfing both Winkipop and Corners that were a bit crowded like expected;-)


Now we are stuck in Melbourne as the campervan engine broke with probably an important repair or a replacement soon!

NZ North Island: Raglan surfers’ dream

We had a dream stay in Raglan, a place I first visited  17 years ago (makes me feel old…) and that completely mesmerized me at the time with its perfect surfing point-breaks and hippie vibe…

17 years later, the charm is still intact! The family stayed in the Solscape Lodge, a very special place where backpackers come from all over the world, and sleep in train wagons! It was great coming back to this place so many years after, and meet all those travelers who come here to share the same things: good waves, beautiful nature, and meet cool people! Kids could live that special feeling for almost a week, living in the communal area where people cook, chat and dream until late at night.

Surf wise, it has been a dream. We arrived for the beginning of a clean winter swell, 2.5m at 17 seconds period… which delivered perfect waves for 4 days in a row on all the Raglan point breaks, from classic Manu Bay and up to 4 meters sets on the outside of Indicators! I got a few of those barreling beasts and got rides from outside Indicators to the end of Whale Bay in just two waves (I guess a kilometer of riding), until I got seriously punished and broke my board in two halves…. One less board to carry;-)

We could also enjoy some hikes (including gorgeous Bridal Veil waterfalls) and a great mountain biking trail around the Raglan countryside.

Good memories for the whole family! Raglan has definitely something special!

Now heading to Coromandel peninsula, our last stop before leaving to Australia.

NZ South Island from the sky

We had many opportunities to see the South Island of NZ from the sky, either by paragliding in the mountains of Queenstown and Wanaka, or by flying the drone where it was aloud as NZ has tight restrictions in most of the national parks (where helicopters fly a bit too often to keep those spaces quiet)…

Here is a selection of some of the most beautiful shots from the sky that you will soon see in the video that we will publish (as soon as we have a chance to find a decent Internet connection to upload the 2 GN of video;-)

NZ South Island Dream

ENGLISH: After a full week in Queenstown enjoying mountains and lakes, we took the road to the west towards Milford Sounds in the “Fjordland National Park“.

We crossed many landscapes that seemed to be scenes from the “Lord of the Rings” movie (it was indeed shot a lot in that region), with grandiose & wild mountains, endless rivers and lakes that compose pure nature poetry… We took a boat in the morning to with the Fjords, where mountain meet the ocean, and despite the bad weather, it was a memorable moment, sighting raw nature composition with countless waterfalls falling directly into the sea…

We then headed east to Dunedin , visiting the Otago Peninsula where we could observe Fur Seals in their natural habitat, enjoying the sun and fresh air of the early days of winter.

Further north to Chirstchurch, hiking the Banks Peninsula in deserted hills and secret coves where we could be alone with nature in untouched forests. Pure enjoyment.

Last, we stopped several days in Kaikoura know as one of the best surf spots on earth (Mangamanu bay famous rights over several kilometers), but also one of the unique place in the world where you are guaranteed to observe whales, as male Sperm Whales made their home in the Kaikoura underwater canyon where they can find food all year round. And we did see many of those rare whales, the largest toothed predator on the blue planet.

This long stay in the South Island exceeded our wildest expectations regarding encountering raw nature. NZ is magic!

Now heading back to the North Island to continue our NZ adventures…


FRENCH: Apres avoir passé quelques jours à Queenstown à profiter des montagnes et du lac…comme à Annecy mais en beaucoup plus sauvage, nous avons filé (autant que possible avec le camping car) vers Milford Sounds, dans le “Fiordland National Park“.

Les paysages pour y arriver étaient dignes du “Seigneur des Anneaux” des montagnes grandioses, sauvages, la nature à perte de vue, des rivières, des lacs et des moutons!
Nous avons pris un bateau le matin pour visiter les fiords… pays des montagnes et des cascades qui se déversent directement dans la mer. La végétation luxuriante et abondante habillait les parois rocheuses : magnifique spectacle de Dame Nature.

Nous sommes ensuite passés du côté Est de l’île sur la péninsule d’Otago à Dunedin. Nous avons eu la chance d’approcher des phoques sur une plage profitant du soleil pour faire la sieste… ils avaient l’air vraiment bien, lovés sur un nid d’algue ou carrément à l’ombre d’un arbre!

En remontant au Nord, nous nous sommes arrêtés sur la péninsule de Banks à proximité de Christchurch… Nous avons fait une ballade entre montagne et mer en traversant des forêts envoûtées pour notre plus grand bonheur!

Encore plus au Nord, à Kaikoura nous avons eu la chance de partir voir les cachalots géants. Il y a une communauté de cachalots mâles qui vivent dans les canyons sous marins au large de Kaikoura. Ces mammifères sont vraiment impressionnants, 15 à 20 mètres de long, se sont d’excellents nageurs, ils peuvent rester sous l’eau pendant 2 heures à une profondeur de 3000 mètres! Leurs queues sont comme nos empreintes digitales… uniques.

Nous avons vraiment tous adoré l’île du Sud, par sa nature sauvage et très variée…

Nous avons repris le bateau pour rejoindre l’île du Nord…

Family flight over Queenstown

Kids just cleared another challenge: flying and steering a paraglider!

After our stay in Wanaka, we went to Queenstown where we had great weather to let the kids fly. We have been flying all three one after another (Mom preferred to watch from the ground;-). Both Ulysses & Jade could take the commands to make their first smooth turns, and get into some tumbling with their instructors.

A great flight from Coronet Peak, sighting the lakes around Queenstown and the autumn colors of the surrounding mountains from above.

I had a few more flights, including good soaring in medium wind, to get something I started a loooong time ago: my paraglider pilot license (called PG2 here in NZ)!

Now heading to Fjordland.

Into the Wild of Osa Peninsula

ENGLISH: After planting trees near Platanillo, we end up to Drake bay, an amazing spot for nature, wildlife and sea.

Most of the people arrive to this place by boat from Sierpe, but we did manage to arrive by car although we had to cross 3 rivers. Hopefully it was still the dry season, and the rivers had little water allowing to cross them easily: it is always fun to cross rivers by car!

We took a boat up to the Sierpe river among the mangrove and we saw slots, hurler monkeys, squirrels monkeys, a boa really big and impressive, iguanas and different kinds of birds. Amongst this variety we particularly loved to see the Scarlet macaw (Aras).
His huge and colorful plumes are amazing! Adults stay in couple their whole life, up to 70 years old!
Then we went diving on the Isla Cana natural reserve where we saw a lot of wildlife including some sharks that impressed the kids.
Finally, we hiked the Corcovado natural reserve that is an amazing place to observe wildlife. This national park protects varied tropical ecosystems, and this is really we saw the most animals, including rare ones.

Drake bay was a great place to stop by and enjoy preserved wildlife. We really enjoyed walking around desert beaches, swimming and hiking in the jungle. We hope it will stay untouched for the years to come.

FRANCAIS: Après avoir planté des arbres et retrouvé un peu de fraicheur dans les hauteurs de Platanillo, nous avons roulé jusqu’à la péninsule d’Osa.

Notre Guest House se trouvait à Drake bay, entre la mer et la réserve naturelle du Corcovado. Magnifique endroit très bien préservé où la grande majorité des personnes arrivent par bateau depuis Sierpe.

Nous avons pris la voiture et avons dû passer trois rivières qui à cette saison ont un niveau d’eau bas et que nous avons donc franchis facilement mais toujours avec plaisir!

Le parc naturel du Corcovado préserve un écosystème tropical. Les environs regorgent d’endroits pour observer la faune qui y est abondante, aussi bien terrestre que marine.

En bateau, nous avons remonté la rivière Sierpe, où nous avons pu observer les habitants des rives de la mangrove.
Nous avons pu observer : paresseux à trois doigts, singes hurleurs, singes capucins ou singes écureuils, un boa vraiment très bien caché mais impressionnant par sa taille, des iguanes, un basilic vert (ils courent sur l’eau grâce à sa rapidité) et même un crocodile de 3 mètres ça ne donne pas du tout envie de se baigner!!!

Nous ne nous sommes pas lassés d’observer les aras, magnifiques perroquets aux plumes longues et colorées de rouge, bleu, jaune et d’un peu de vert!

Nous avons profité de ce lieu aussi pour se promener le long des plages désertiques et découvrir la faune au cours de longues marches dans la jungle. Nous avons eu la chance d’observer le fourmilier et les enfants ont observé une sorte de loutre ou putois… nous n’avons pas réussi à trouver l’étrange animal!

Ballades, baignades, bateau, découverte de la faune…nous avons bien profité de ce lieu tranquille et magique!