The Gower Peninsula is a rural, rugged landscape, shaped around the south coast of Wales. Unsurprisingly
In September of 2016 I embarked on a scuba diving trip to Malta, with my sister, twin brother and our dad. We chose to go Continue reading
Cyprus has become a popular holiday destination for many British holiday-makers in recent years; the city of Paphos is a favourite for families who want some sun, sea and sand, whilst the town of Ayia Napa is infamous Continue reading
Noordwijk, a sleepy little town by the beach in the west of the Netherlands, is usually a destination for families spending their summer holidays riding their bikes along the windy promenade. This year, Noordwijk was an international hotspot and meeting point for lifeguards from all over the world on their way to become world champions in lifesaving.
My mum signed me up for swimming lessons when I was 8 months old and I started training as a lifeguard when I was 12. Two years ago, at the world championships in France, I met some Irish girls who motivated me to take part in this year’s event even though I wanted to quit swimming. Thanks to them I spent an amazing week in the Netherlands not only competing, but also exploring the country and making friends with lifeguards from other teams.
I caught a train from Germany to the Netherlands. Loaded with bags and equipment I attracted quite a lot attention and explained to some Dutch people where I was going.
‘What’s surf lifesaving?’ is probably the most frequent and saddest question I get asked. Surf lifesaving is what those people at beaches, lakes and swimming pools do, all over the world. The ones who raise a red flag in case there are dangerous currents, that keep your kids from drowning while you’re sunbathing and provide first aid if anything happens to you. The sport, or at least the competitive side of it, is a little different. Hundreds of boards, skis and people wearing weird coloured hats and bright pink rashies (rash vests) attracted lots of curious spectators in Noordwjik, who had probably never seen the beach that crowded before. At the whistle, a group of lifeguards ran in the water and started swimming towards different coloured buoys. Further up the beach, in a different arena, some women lined up with their boards ready to paddle out and rescue their ‘victim’ who was waiting out in the ocean for them. 150 km from the beach, the youth teams fought for medals in Eindhoven’s 50m pool. Continue reading
Parque Tayrona on the north-east coast of Colombia is a sacred place for the indigenous Kogi people who have carried out rituals on the sparkling sands of Tayrona’s beaches for hundreds of years. To this day, many Kogi still live in the park — my friend and I met a family collecting coconuts and selling them to passing tourists on our trek. Having heard that the national park looked like the land before time, a place where you could imagine a dinosaur appearing at any moment, we decided to visit in June 2016 to find out for ourselves what makes the area so special for the Kogi and tourists alike.
The park is most easily accessible by bus from nearby Santa Marta (buses depart from “El Mercado” station for 7.000 Colombian pesos). The journey takes an hour and leaves you at the entrance to the park. From here you can catch another bus for 3.000 COP which drops you at the start of the trail. Entrance to the park is 42.000 pesos for foreigners (around £10). Make sure you bring your passport and student card if you have one as students only pay 8.000.
My buddy and I decided to make the most of it and spend two nights at El Cabo de San Juan beach which is a two hour trek from where the second bus leaves you. The trail is very clear and easy to follow; it’s mostly covered in wooden decking so it makes for a very pleasant walk. Within half an hour we had spotted hordes of yellow and green butterflies circling around each other, electric blue lizards scuttling along the path and golden-faced monkeys chasing each other through the trees.