18 Months - 16 Countries - 54 Cities...

 

...35 BUS RIDES - 24 flights - 12 train rides - 3 road trips - 1 tour!


 

18 MONTHS ON THE ROAD

Today marks 18 months since we took our first flight as HandZaround (Hanna and Zach around the world - for those who haven't figured it out yet). It was a flight from Poland to Nepal. We left ready for 'a big adventure' but not necessary aware of what was going to follow - as we went, we had to readjust our mindsets and opinions, our bags, our gear and our relationship, so that we wouldn't go totally crazy! We had so many breakdowns and so many beautiful moments that it's hard to choose the best and worst ones. We met a heap of wonderful people who changed our lives, influenced how we think about the world and its issues, and proved us that we need to cherish every moment spent in places we love and with people who make us happy because it may never happen again!

 
 Travel is not all fun! Sometimes you're in situations you don't want to be in and it's not easy to get out of them. We may be smiling here but we were midway into a strenuous 3 day trek that we weren't physically ready for - unfortunately Hanna's knee was seriously hurt and there was no way out of the thick jungle for the next two days! This definitely taught us to ask a lot of questions before agreeing to anything like that again, and we cringe when people say to us that travel is all about fancy hotels and delicious food...

Travel is not all fun! Sometimes you're in situations you don't want to be in and it's not easy to get out of them. We may be smiling here but we were midway into a strenuous 3 day trek that we weren't physically ready for - unfortunately Hanna's knee was seriously hurt and there was no way out of the thick jungle for the next two days! This definitely taught us to ask a lot of questions before agreeing to anything like that again, and we cringe when people say to us that travel is all about fancy hotels and delicious food...

 

We have grown, not only physically (haha yep - it's hard to have a balanced diet whilst on the move so we're working on losing these additional kilograms now!), but also in the way we perceive how the world and societies around the globe work. We have learnt that there is no right or wrong - it all depends on where you stand, what you see and what you have. 

We also took it slow for the last 6 months. During the first 6 months of our travels, we visited 9 countries and 33 cities and we had 19 bus rides, 10 flights, 7 trains and did 1 road trip. And in the last year we visited pretty much as many places as we did in the first 6 months of the journey (now it equals 16 countries, 54 cities, 35 bus rides, 24 flights, 12 train rides, 3 road trips and 1 tour). We decided to immerse ourselves more in the cultures of the countries and cities we visit, rather than just skim through their surface. And it was so worth it - the things we found out and new friends we met heavily influenced what we like and what we don't like (probs at the moment, until we meet another person/couple who will enlighten us some more). And we hope that as we keep travelling, we will keep developing our tastes, likes, dislikes and opinions.

 It's hard not to grow sideways when delicious things like these samosas are waiting for you behind every corner!

It's hard not to grow sideways when delicious things like these samosas are waiting for you behind every corner!

HandZaround has also developed as a business - we finally started generating a small income that makes it possible for us to keep going, although we're still at the beginning of this whole business journey (so many things to think of and to learn!). Thanks to our growing portfolios of photographs and films, we were able to work with more wonderful hotels, tour operators, travel & fashion brands. And we're really hoping to focus on this side more and more to be able to keep doing what we love.

 Our most recent project was for  The Retreat  in Kigali - a luxury boutique hotel featured in Vogue, Conde Nast Traveler and The New York Times amongst others.

Our most recent project was for The Retreat in Kigali - a luxury boutique hotel featured in Vogue, Conde Nast Traveler and The New York Times amongst others.

 

16 COUNTRIES

During the first part of our journey we visited South East Asia and since our last 12-month-mark post where we shared with you some of our African stories, we visited a few new countries in East Africa. Right now we're spending some family time in Poland and re-charging batteries for next adventures.

Kenya

We got to Kenya by bussing down south from Ethiopia. Three days after leaving Addis Ababa and on the verge of exhaustion, we finally got to Mombasa!  In Kenya, we spent three months during which we've seen some of the most stunning places in the world (nope, we didn't see the whole world to judge it, but seriously Kenya has some hidden gems we had never heard of before).

We did a bit of water sports on the Indian Ocean, thoroughly enjoyed our time in Watamu Treehouse, visited stunning Africa Pool in Tiwi Beach and hung out on the white sand beaches of Diani in Diani Backpackers; did a massive trek through Southern parts of Kenya which nearly destroyed us, got a glimpse of some big game in Amboseli National Park and Tsavo Conservancy, explored the magical Ngare Ndare forest (where we slept amongst the elephants!) on our few day road trip, and spent some time in Nairobi. We were often blown away with the absolute beauty of this country!

 

Rwanda

...welcomed us with super strict security checks on the border with Uganda, which we initially decided to pass through. After getting used to the fact that Rwanda is totally different from any other country we have ever visited, we finally could start enjoying its never-ending landscapes filled with tropical forests, tea plantations, lakes and volcanoes. We opted for a car to see this small country and it's been a total pleasure to drive through its perfectly maintained roads. We are getting just now to sharing all our Rwandan stories with you - and we nearly cry looking back at how beautiful the places, which we visited, are. You definitely appreciate things more, once they're out of your reach! And to think that we were there merely a few weeks ago and couldn't wait for our flight back to Europe! 

So, stay tuned as we share with you the stories from the shores of Lake Kivu, from Musanze that has stunning views on Rwanda's and Congo's five volcanoes, Akagera which is one unique national park, an enchanted Nyungwe Forest and its jolly chimps, a super fast developing capital city of Kigali (which we were lucky to discover with Go Kigali Tours & Boutique) and many more places that caught our eyes.

 

Uganda

We spent the last two weeks of our time in Africa in Uganda. We mainly stayed in Kampala - we absolutely loved this city! It had all we needed. We were pretty tired after our intensive time in Rwanda, and Kampala was such a good spot to just take it easy. We got some local stories to share with you - one from visiting a neighbourhood hairdresser, the other one of befriending a kebab maker, some stunning views of Kampala from the mosques, churches and view points, and getting to see one of Uganda's celebrities singing to us unexpectedly at a small house gig! 

Also - have you seen the new movie '7 Days in Entebbe'? Pretty depressing isn't it?! We though so too, that's why we decided to make it to Entebbe ourselves and find out how to spend 7 awesome hours there (a post is coming soon)! And we felt much better after changing the sad view we had on Entebbe after watching the movie, to imagining this great city as a pretty green oasis on the shores of Lake Victoria! We think that staying at Malakai Eco Lodge, surrounded by lush tropical trees, definitely helped in changing our perspective!

 

WHAT'S IN STORE FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS?

#HandZaroundEurope & #HandZaroundAustralia !

...Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic. We can't hide that we're pretty excited about this road trip that we have planned for May & June! It's been a while since we travelled around Europe and we have to catch up on that.

And we cannot wait to spend a few months in Australia at the end of the year!

So many exciting projects and trips ahead! 

 Yep, we also got this cliché jumping photo! Anyways... this is how excited we are about the next few months!

Yep, we also got this cliché jumping photo! Anyways... this is how excited we are about the next few months!

 

THANK YOU!

Thank you - you who read our posts, you who follows and shares our adventures on Facebook and Instagram, you who have worked with us and you who we met somewhere in the world and who changed our perspective.

One of the reasons we run around the world with the cameras is because we know that sometimes it's hard to imagine what life on the opposite side of the world may look like. It may be hard to come up with ideas and inspirations for your travels. Sometimes you may be scared of places because of what others (or media) tell you about them. And sometimes you may not know that a hidden gem is waiting to be discovered by you. That's why we would like to bring this huge world closer to you, through our stories, films and photographs. So, thank you for being on the other end of our laptops - we love showing you how awesome our planet is!

Here is to the next 18+ months of travels!

Hanna & Zach