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2explore.net We are Niels and Amy van Dongen and this is our journey. Our home site is http://www.2explore.net. On February 16, 2007 we will leave behind the comforts of our home in Seattle to travel through the South Pacific. On this site you can follow along with us, read about our experiences and view some of the photos we have taken en route. Our insatiable urge to explore, sparked the idea for this adventure. In October of 2005, we had a taste of the South Pacific on a 3-week trip to the Cook Islands and have ever since wanted to go back to immerse ourselves in the South Pacific way of life and record our experiences. With many ecosystems at risk from pollution, global warming and climate change, this is now especially critical. We aim to capture the true character of the idyllic South Pacific through photographs and words in a way that makes any observer of our work feel a connection to this special place and in turn, join us in making simple choices in everyday life that can have positive, lasting effects on the world around us. For a year we will be living as modern nomads – traveling only with what we can carry in our packs, living amongst the locals on the islands we visit, spending time sharing stories and experiences and taking in the captivating underwater world on the occasional dive. We hope to help others along the way and keep a vivid record of this adventure to share with you, and keep at the forefront of our memory. Follow along with us and learn about far away places of natural beauty and rich cultures. Experience with us the big world we call home.

DAY 303 A Sharp Turn

FIJI | Tuesday, 18 Dec 2007 | Views [598]

The time has come for us to leave the South Pacific and embark on an adventure of settling somewhere and working to make the dreams we have been having turn into reality. For several months we have debated when to return to the States ... Read more >

Tags: Philosophy of travel

DAY 299 A Time to Treasure

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 18 Dec 2007 | Views [338]

As the days pass in December, the number of tourists in New Zealand is greatly increasing and soon, the number of New Zealanders on the road will skyrocket as the school holidays kick in. Now, more than ever, we are seeking out the quiet, ... Read more >

Tags: On the Road

DAY 295 Time in Te Anau

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 18 Dec 2007 | Views [520]

We have been so very lucky to spend a few days off the tourist trail again. Especially so, as we got to spend the days in the company of a welcoming family. We had met them earlier this year in Samoa and promised to pay a visit if we ... Read more >

Tags: Friends

DAY 289 Across the Mountains

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 18 Dec 2007 | Views [443]

After leaving the Marlborough Sounds, we made our way Southeast. Clouds appeared as we approached Kaikoura where we needed to stop for the night. Just as the tent was wedged between two camper vans, the clouds broke open and it poured. ... Read more >

Tags: On the Road

DAY 283 Marlborough Sounds of Silence

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 30 Nov 2007 | Views [499]

Under a clear blue sky and blinding sun, we drove the narrow, winding coastline from Picton to the Marlborough Sounds, intending to pay a visit to a friend and relax for a few days. En route we frequently pulled over, lured by the occasional ... Read more >

Tags: Relaxation

DAY 265 A Great Walk

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 14 Nov 2007 | Views [414]

To me, the greatest attraction of New Zealand lies in its unrivalled nature and wildlife. The best way to experience it must be by walking the many fine trails that crisscross the country. According to our documentation, one of the best ... Read more >

Tags: Adventures

DAY 250 Northland at the South End

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 4 Nov 2007 | Views [384]

For the last two weeks we have been exploring the far North of New Zealand, our most Southern destination on this journey. It has been a while since we have last found ourselves at latitudes this far from the equator, where the weather is obviously much ... Read more >

Tags: On the Road

DAY 229 The Last Dots

VANUATU | Saturday, 13 Oct 2007 | Views [420]

Far North Vanuatu is home to the most remote archipelago in the country and lured us for how far it sits off the beaten track. After the short detour through Australia, we were ready to take the route less traveled once again and get back to basic ... Read more >

Tags: Adventures

DAY 215 Detour Down Under

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 21 Sep 2007 | Views [468]

Between the Solomon Islands and Australia lies a vast, deep blue sea that separates two shockingly different worlds. Resulting from an involuntary re-route, we were not quite prepared for so many people and commercial activity. Suddenly swallowed up by ... Read more >

Tags: Sightseeing

DAY 188 Bliss at 80 South

SOLOMON ISLANDS | Thursday, 20 Sep 2007 | Views [518]

Water laps against the posts of our overwater leaf house as I sway in the hammock to create air movement as it is hotter here, 8 degrees South of the equator, than anyplace else we have been. Maybe it is the hammock's perfect fit, or the view out over ... Read more >

Tags: Relaxation

DAY 177 "Tumas Cloud"

VANUATU | Friday, 7 Sep 2007 | Views [653]

On our last two days on Ambrym island, I decide to take on the challenge of walking cross-island to climb one of the island's dark, brooding volcanoes. It is said to be a hard, long hike requiring an overnight stay at the base of the mountain. Amy decides ... Read more >

Tags: Adventures

DAY 176 A Week on Ambrym Island

VANUATU | Friday, 7 Sep 2007 | Views [857]

After spending a few days roaming around Vanuatu's capital, Port vila, and another ten exploring the island of Tanna, we decided to head North and set our sights on Ambrym Island. To many people, the island is a bit mysterious. Its two active volcanoes ... Read more >

Tags: Sightseeing

DAY 169 Village Life in Vanuatu

VANUATU | Monday, 6 Aug 2007 | Views [1458]

There have been times on our trip that we have wished for comforts, times that were hard, even times that we perhaps rather would have been in the comforts of our apartment and former familiar surroundings. Somehow though, it feels like we have known ... Read more >

Tags: Culture

DAY 164 One Vanuatu Volcano

VANUATU | Monday, 6 Aug 2007 | Views [511]

There are many active volcanoes in the world but only a few erupt as regular and consistent as Yasur volcano on Tanna island, Vanuatu. From the moment we arrived in Eastern Tanna, we had heard the grumbling of the old man - which is what Yasur freely ... Read more >

Tags: Adventures

DAY 153 Afloat in Vava'u

TONGA | Wednesday, 25 Jul 2007 | Views [417]

Most people would probably agree that being the captain of your own boat is the best way to see Vava'u. For us however, that meant going about on a simple, borrowed, plastic kayak complete with disfunctional paddle. Regardless, the natural ... Read more >

Tags: Relaxation

DAY 142 Now THAT'S Rustic

TONGA | Wednesday, 25 Jul 2007 | Views [372]

We got a little more than we bargained for when we wished for true adventure, authentic cultural experiences, and undeveloped tourism to come our way during our stay in Tonga. Tucked away on the most Western side of the Vava'u group of ... Read more >

Tags: Adventures

DAY 134 Making Bubbles in Tonga

TONGA | Monday, 2 Jul 2007 | Views [395]

Last Thursday we touched down in the Kingdom of Tonga. Through a string of good fortune, things fell into place: a much needed, long awaited package was actually waiting for us at the post office in Tongatapu and at the airport we were able to walk up, ... Read more >

Tags: Adventures

DAY 122 Kickin' Back

SAMOA | Monday, 2 Jul 2007 | Views [402]

Days have passed without much ado during our stay back in Samoa. We have spent much of our time on quintessential tropical beaches allowing us to take in even more sun :). It has been relaxing and we have had lovely weather, some spectacular thunderstorms ... Read more >

Tags: Relaxation

DAY 108 The Armpit of the South Pacific?

AMERICAN SAMOA | Tuesday, 5 Jun 2007 | Views [696]

Here we sit in Pago Pago, American Samoa - a place where no one should choose to linger. The road around the island is clogged with oversized pick-up trucks and SUV's and dotted throughout are grease pit restaurants and cafe's spewing out ... Read more >

Tags: Misadventures

DAY 100 A Bright Spot

SAMOA | Wednesday, 30 May 2007 | Views [464]

After crossing paths with the fellow travellers we met on Savaii, who we will now refer to as friends, we headed back to Upolu and on to Lalomanu. It was a very long travel day (taxi, ferry, taxi, taxi) made bearable by sharing the experience (and taxi ... Read more >

Tags: People

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