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Author Archive | Heidi Sequenz

Kamchatka – Land of Fire and Bears

No roads connect the peninsula of Kamchatka in Russia’s far east with other parts of Russia’s Far East. So you call it a pretty isolated place. Only in the late 17th century did Russian explorers arrive. Why travel to such a remote place? First of alI, I love exactly such places, plus Kamchatka has a lot of offer: Bears big&small fishing bright red salmon and volcanoes, 160 of them, 29 are still active. I climbed three, Tolbachik, Mutnovsky, Gorely, lived a couple of days with reindeer herders and spent four days at Kuril Lake watching bears big and small catching salmons.

Mighty Tolbatchik

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Birobidzhan – Where the Jews aren’t

Stalin tried to establish a socialist Jewish utopia in Russia’s Far East. I had read about this extraordinary project -many years prior to this trip, but had no idea though that it was close to Khabarovsk. How did I learn that the Jewish Autonomous Region of Oblast started right across the bridge

Location of Birobidzhan on the Amur River, close to China.

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Khabarovsk – Green City on the Amur River

Siberian cities? Doesn’t everybody’s phantasy run wild? Dirty, cold, mosquito infested, dull places? Well you could not be more wrong, Khabarovsk is a beautiful city, green as it can be, trees line every street, with lots of parks full of kids. there are numerous museums, a lively  art scene and a water front. Winters are harsh though with 30 degrees minus but the city and people are equipped for these temperatures. Like so often when visiting unusual places, I realize how manipulated and brainwashed we all have become and what terrible stereotypes we live with.

The Ponds

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Iturup Island- Russia’s wild frontier

Iturup has a certain rawness that comes with being such a remote and exposed place. For me, simply being in such an inaccessible place was already an adventure. Add climbing volcanoes, walking along endless beaches and bleach-white cliffs, soaking in super hot rivers, marveling at spectacular waterfalls, chasing bears and catching my first fish ever. It was an epic trip.

The White Rocks stretch for miles alongside the shore of Prostor Bay. Bleach-white cliffs covered by a carpet of thick plants

Why Iturup?

The story begins in 2016 when I met Seereen during a trip in Kamchatka. A native of London she is working for SHELL in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. We kept in touch and this is how I learned about a planed trip to Iturup with some of her friends. I had not heard the name Iturup before, this fact got me immediately interested. A quick google search revealed Itrurup as the largest island of the Kuriles, a chain of volcanic islands between Japan and Kamchatka. Cradled by the Sea of Okhotsk and the northern Pacific this 200km long island and neighboring Kunashir are is still claimed by Japan.

The islands of Iturup and Kunashir are still claimed by Japan

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Bears Country – Kurile Lake – Kamchatka

Paradise was the first word that came to my mind when the Mi-8  descended onto the little heliport next to the small cabin on Lake Kurile. The water of the lake below was painted in different colors, green forests threw their shadow into the lake where bears were hunting salmons, lots of bears. Kronotsky Nature Reserve in southern Kamchatka is Bears’ Country.

Approaching Lake Kurile

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Travel Advice Sudan

I traveled northern Sudan in December/January 2017 for two weeks with my 18 year-old niece. We used only public transport, except when visiting the archeological sights of Naqa and Mussawarrat. Going there you need a private vehicle, most likely a four-wheel drive which we shared with another traveler. We went as far north as Karima and stayed overnight in Khartoum, Shendi, at the Pyramids of Meroe and Karima. There are detailed blog entries on each of these places. To sum it up – one of my best trips ever.

Kelly and I enjoying the Pyramids of Meroe at sunset, just the two of us

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Shendi – could-be gateway to the pyramids of Meroe

Small town Shendi seemed the perfect place for exploring the Pyramids of Meroe and the archeological site of Naqa and Mussawarrat. That was the plan, it did not materialize, but staying in Shendi was a unique experience and it turned into one of those unplanned adventures that will always be remembered. Set right on the Nile, it was almost heartbreaking to watch the enormous potential of Shendi not being used at a gateway to the Pyramids of Meroe and  Naqa and Mussawarrat nearby. Day trips  from Khartoum to these places are US 260, only to visit the sights at the height of the heat. 

Shendi – view of the River Nile from our room at El Kawther Hotel

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Ancient Karima – Tombs, Temples and a Petrified Forest

Karima is plastered with ancient sites, ancient in one case means millions of years. The Petrified Forest outside the village of El Kurru is that old. A lot younger are the pyramids and tombs from the Kushite Period and the remains of Palace of Amun at the foot Jebel Barkal.

View from Jebel Mountain

On our way to the village of El Kurru our taxi driver pulled up to a few men chatting next to the road. Eventually one of them climbed into our taxi, leaving Kelly and me confused. Having experienced many such moments when traveling I stayed calm and as it turned out the taxi driver had stopped to ask Mohnad, a local who spoke some English, whether he would serve as a guide for the two lady tourists. Eagerly Mohnad joined us on this little excursion and we learned so much we would have missed otherwise. Continue Reading →

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