Saturday, 16 April 2016

# 27 - Hiking and Camping Tours (Blue Mountains Tour with Dingo Travel)

We spent one summer as teenagers working on a strawberry farm in Holland, where the workers had to camp in a grass field beside the farm.  It wasn't part of our original plan, so we turned up with no camping equipment whatsoever, and could only afford to buy a cheap two man tent, but no ground sheet or sleeping bag.  Some nights, the temperature dropped below zero, and I can assure you that sleeping in a pile of smelly clothes in sub-zero temperatures is not a fun way to pass your time.

The following summer, having not learned our lesson, we spent the summer working as campsite couriers in France, and once again found ourselves living in a tent.  This one was slightly better, with a proper camping bed, cooking equipment and everything.  Nonetheless, after two summers of living in tents, we have been put off camping for life.  As a result, we went for the hiking part of the hiking and camping tours, and completed a one day Blue Mountains tour with Dingo Travel.

I don't get the fuss - is the scenery behind not even more spectacular than the Three Sisters themselves?
To be perfectly honest, I think calling it a hiking tour is stretching it a little.  There was some gentle hiking, but nothing significant.  In fact, it is a busy itinerary, with a lot of sightseeing, but not a great deal of hiking.  The tour started with a pick up from Sydney city centre in a small minibus.  We moved on to Featherdale Wildlife Park, which is along the route to the Blue Mountains.  This is a relatively small but nice wildlife park with kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and dingos, among others.

This is why koalas always sleep - to hide their freaky eyes
After the Wildlife Park, we moved on to Scenic World in Katoomba.  We had already visited before, so just waited in the cafe, but the rest of the group took the steep railway down to the valley below for a walk through the rainforest at the bottom.  Following this, we moved on to the village of Leura for some lunch.  This was at your own expense, and we chose to be anti social and take the opportunity to go for a walk and a bit to eat on our own.  Leura is a nice town, and there are plenty of nice places to eat and drink.

No Three Sisters, but still pretty spectacular
Following lunch, we went for a walk through the bush, finishing up with an aboriginal show near the three sisters viewpoint.  The walk was lovely, and the aboriginal show was interesting, but in our case, slightly spoiled by a large group of about 30 people who talked loudly throughout the whole show.

Can you tell this is in front of a fake background?  Sorry to spoil the illusion if not...
We then went on another walk, this one being the most comprehensive of the tour.  We went through some bush, along a path to a nice clifftop, with views out over the valley below.  This was the part of the tour we enjoyed the most, particularly as we had done Featherdale and Scenic World before.  The guide here was very good, and stopped at regular intervals to give information on the plants around the area, as well as some great information on aboriginal culture around the area.  We probably only walked for about 45 minutes in total.

A tad breezy.  The waterfall in the background is suppose to be the attraction by the way - not exactly the Iguassu Falls
The final stop was at the Sydney Olympic Park, where we had a drive around and stopped to look outside one of the stadiums, before heading to the ferry terminal to make our own way back to the city.

As with all the day tours we did from Sydney, this was quite a long and tiring day, but very enjoyable. The guide was passionate and knowledgeable, and the Blue Mountains are always stunning.  We would have liked a bit more hiking if we were being honest, but it was a good trip all the same.  A definite option for people looking for a day trip to the Blue Mountains.

Have you done the Dingo Travel tour, or any other hiking or camping tour?  Please leave any questions or additional thoughts in the comments below.

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