#2017BestNine – 9 highlights from this year

Posted on December 21, 2017 in Blog, Places to See, Things to Do

It’s that time of year again when most people are reflecting and contemplating how the year unfolded.

Since I started with social media, I have used it as a way to capture the moments and catalog my crazy life which is full of travel and far too many outings for me to remember in vivid detail.

Last year in 2016 I recapped where I went and some of the trials or tribulations that happened. So in keeping with the tradition, I give to you my 2nd annual recap.

Total Flights in 2017 – 88 separate flights. Many of which were a long haul of over 5 hours.

Countries visited in between January and December 2017 – Canada, USA, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, South Africa, Mauritius, Cuba, Guam, Palau, Philippines, Solomon, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.

Slept in 55 hotels over the course of 129 nights.

Camped: a lot.

We’ve put many miles into our hiking shoes, with countless day hikes and bike rides around here in the Yukon. I realized that ‘moderate’ in Yukon terms might as well mean ‘extreme’ everywhere else or I am utterly out of shape. We’ve turned around numerous times as I couldn’t hack it.

We have come to expect that any other person on a trail means that it is a busy place after continuously having the mountains all to ourselves.

I swam an absurd amount in the Yukon River while trying to learn how to whitewater kayak because every wave looks like a wall when you’re a beginner.

We’ve decided to permanently make Whitehorse our home, with our first purchase of a house ever in this city.

Our earliest night to bed was in Valdez, Alaska when Kieran was near hypothermic after kayaking in almost sub-zero temperatures for hours while I stayed warm-ish in his dry suit.

I ended up in the hospital three times due to a mysterious bug bite obtained in Suriname, and therefore Kieran has kindly requested I stop going to jungle destinations and wandering around barefoot. But that same trip had another fall down the stairs and another get bit by a caiman, so it wasn’t like I was the only one in pain.

We took a kiteboarding holiday to Mauritius only to have no wind.

We got married.

Our families visited us in the Yukon, even after my brother swore he would never come this far north. To our surprise, they loved it as much as we did. But, no one has converted and moved here (yet!).

I’ve met only a handful of the worst humans on earth but travelled with dozens of the sweetest people you’d ever meet.

We’ve had the pleasure to partner with many different brands to promote an outdoor lifestyle we feel passionate about and I’ve happily continued to work for Adventures Abroad travel company with management I respect and trust.

Here is my official #2017bestnine, with my most ‘liked’ photos on Instagram:

#2017bestnine @meandertheworld

From top left – right locations: Glacier Bay (#tbt),  Yukon River, CN Rail with Rocky Mountaineer, Skagway Alaska,  Mauritius with Riu Hotels, Alsek Valley (where we got married!), Cape Town South Africa,  Glacier Bay (#tbt), Bow Lake Alberta.


Whereas here are my favourite moments from 2017:


The start of our new adventure.

A post shared by Rachel Bertsch (@meandertheworld) on

  1. The Wedding. Easy. Simple. With 30 ish guests, a hike beforehand and a big BBQ after.   

2. Kaieteur Falls in Guyana.

Honestly, this trip was very memorable for good reasons and bad.

Bad – the foot thing and injuries I noted above.

The good – flying a small plane into the jungles and having this view to ourselves.


Salty dreams.

A post shared by Rachel Bertsch (@meandertheworld) on

  3. South Africa. This trip had a bit of a doozy start. 36 hours before we left Canada, I couldn’t walk due to the foot infection, didn’t have enough pages left in my passport and was just arriving back from South America after having slept a night in Toronto’s airport thanks to an over-zealous customs agent that searched me for so long I missed my connection. Which was also the last flight going that night. The following morning, feeling rather zombie-ish, I was met by Kieran who arrived 36 hours earlier than expected at the airport in Vancouver to surprise me and help me hobble along to get to the hospital and passport office. Everyone thought we should cancel, but we rearranged our sightseeing to make it hobble friendly. This was one of those hobble friendly places, that just ended up being gorgeous.   

Sliding into weekend mode. A post shared by Rachel Bertsch (@meandertheworld) on

4. New sporty challenges.

We picked up a few sports since moving up here, cross country skiing being one of them.

I don’t like being terrible at something, but I do like having room to improve. With this sport, I’m happy to say there is plenty of room for improvement but the chance to be outside makes the practice well worth it.


I believe I can fly.

A post shared by Rachel Bertsch (@meandertheworld) on

  5. Snowkiting. Kieran’s obsessed and would probably disown me if I didn’t mention this sport.   


6. Mountain Biking.

I never really rode bikes until I was with Kieran and he is perpetually finding ways to get me in the saddle. There wasn’t a 2500km ride this year but there were plenty of rides.

Sometimes I have to walk the bike as he picks something a little too steep for my comfort level and then sometimes we stumble on a gem of a trail: flat and scenic with a perfect chance to backcountry camp.


Good mornings, especially if you’re that tiny canoe.

A post shared by Rachel Bertsch (@meandertheworld) on

  7. The posh life. Truth be told I get to stay in some of the most amazing locations around the world. Sometimes it’s the location or the ambiance or the remoteness. But, of course, sometimes there are dives you can’t wait to get out of. This was my view from my room in Chateau Lake Louise. Tour leading might have its stresses but when you get to kick back in a place like this… it’s pure bliss and a desire to never leave.  


8. Bear Camp.

We went to bed in a canvas tent with an electric blanket keeping us warm. Woke up to a cup of coffee and a mist coming off the river. Paddling through the fog we went looking for grizzlies.

Glamping is the future people. At least I hope it is in my future again.


  9. The hikes. This was actually a hard one to narrow down using one photo as we did so many spectacular hikes. This hike was not my favourite hike, but then I find most the hikes are like trips: too hard to name a favourite and each time you take one you think that it is ‘the one’.  


10. #GoMedia Canada.

Something I didn’t write about on here was that I was invited for the second time to attend Canada’s Media Conference for their pick of the top 50 writers across the country. It was a pretty big honour and I was so humbled yet terrified meeting with the tourism boards and other writers who I felt had huge accomplishments under their belt.

Definitely gave me some inspiration for how to move forward with my writing in the future.






Thanks so much for joining along with my journies in 2017, may 2018 be just as splendid!