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Tales from TravelLocal: where we’ve been in 2023


From the heights of Mount Bromo in Indonesia to the endless forest landscapes of Canada’s Algonquin Highlands, the TravelLocal team ventured far and wide in 2023. Uncovering epic experiences across destinations both popular and lesser-known, they brought back with them new favourite memories and tips to help you plan a trip of your own.

Read about their stories below, and chat with one of our local experts if you’re feeling inspired to get out there and explore these incredible destinations for yourself.

Monika: Indonesia

The volcanic highlight was Mount Bromo, an active volcano and ancient caldera in the Tengger mountains. At the bottom of Bromo you’ll find a sea of sand, a desert-like area covered in volcanic ash and sediment.

At approximately 4.30am we started our ascent to the rim of the volcano through wafts of sulphuric gas (not fun). At least once in your lifetime, you should experience the surreal moment of standing on a 1.5 m-wide dirt track, with a steep drop to your left and the roaring pyre of doom to your right, as you wait for the sun to rise.

The landscape around Bromo is breathtaking, unreal, and freezing cold with almost sub-zero temperatures before and shortly after dawn. A lunar landscape is the best description I can come up with. The rising sun tinges it a yellowy-orange, making it look like a scene from a sci-fi movie.

If that is not enough, just behind Bromo towers majestic Semeru, an active stratovolcano which spews ash and gas clouds on a schedule.

Laisa: India

My favourite part of my trip to India was a visit to the city of Jaisalmer – its sandstone buildings, architectural intricacies, and small meandering roads are superb!

A specific highlight was my tour of national parks around Jaisalmer to do some wildlife-spotting. I loved getting to see a desert cat as well as endangered and impressive migratory birds.

Emily: Ghana

My top tip would be to try the local food – red red (a stew of cowbeans, tomatoes and red palm oil) and palava (a stewy sauce made with cocoyam leaves, also known as kontomire) were my favourite dishes.

Natacha: South Africa

Embarking on a Lion’s Head hike in Cape Town after a day of work was pure magic. As the sun set, the city lights below began to twinkle like stars. The summit revealed a breathtaking panorama of Cape Town and the sea, a perfect blend of urban energy and natural beauty. Grateful for the unique balance of work and exploration, I found this adventure left an indelible mark on me. Cape Town is a perfect place for wanderings, and I can’t wait to explore more of its secrets!

Hayley: Iceland

My absolute favourite memory was my proposal beside Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, where my fiancée Tess proposed and four seals popped up out of the water to witness the event. This happened shortly after our stroll along Diamond Beach, and it all came together so fittingly.

Leisa: Costa Rica

My top tip would be to pack some binoculars. There’s so much beautiful, colourful birdlife everywhere in Costa Rica – and it’s even more amazing to be able to see it all close-up. I nearly left mine at home – I’d have been heartbroken if I hadn’t had them with me.

Rocio: Albania

My overall experience of Albania can only be described as wholesomely fulfilling, thanks to the warmness of the people, the vast variety of fun outdoor recreational activities, and the breathtaking beauty of its natural splendour. It was truly a unique and unforgettable travel adventure.

Cliff: Sierra Nevada, Spain

The town we were staying in, Lanjarón, is famous for the purity of its spring water. The water is so tasty that it’s sold nationwide, but in the town itself you’ll find fountains dotted around, where the locals go and fill up dozens of bottles at a time for free, to have for all of their drinking water. Perfect for long days of cycling!

Johanna: United Kingdom

As corny as it sounds, I think my favourite experience was getting a Sunday roast at the Chester Arms in Oxford. It’s a fabulous UK tradition and this pub has a really good roast – my friend takes everyone there whenever they visit.

David: Canada

This is the 5 Viewpoints trail in the Algonquin Highlands, Ontario. I’d recommend this area as an alternative to New England, to see the autumn colours (colors!), and amazing scenery with a stunning lake around every corner. It’s also a great time to miss the peak summer and winter ski seasons.

Make it happen

Have our team’s travels inspired you to book a trip of your own? Speak to our local experts today by clicking on the destination links above.

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