Alexis M Spencer


Alexis M Spencer

I was an engineer on a long term assignment, first in Dubai and then in Qatar. During this time, I took advantage of my nice paycheck and proximity to other places to start seeing the world. After three years, I decided to take a much earned break and traveled for a year. After working about two years in New York State, I am on my way back to Dubai.

My friends started to request to join me on my hikes, so I created a little group with my weekend plan. I'm an early riser and do not like to hike in the middle of the day. So, if they were willing to get up early and join me, I was good with it and even set my start time a half hour later. First hike of the new year was a solo one though, so I could get back into my rhythm. I am by no means a fit, fast hiker. I usually do well at my own pace because I go slow and don't stop for long breaks, instead, I do frequent mini breaks just to catch my breath. Ain al Sheria 4.6 miles, 450m elevation gain This hike is known as the Geological ... read more
Wadi Saham Hike
Wadi al Ghuna Hike
Forgotten Village Hike

The 2023-2024 hiking season was pretty busy for me. Not only was I training for Mt Kilimanjaro, but the options available in the UAE continue to improve. I made a list of hikes that I wanted to do and did as many I could while in country. I was just going to do one blog post, but I did a lot so I've split it into two. Mostly I tried to do a new one each time but there a few repetitions over the season. Fossil Rock 3.3 miles, 200m elevation gain One of the most popular hikes in UAE, and one of the closest to Dubai, many people trek here at sunset. There are great views from the rock outcrops over the sand dunes toward the sunset. We went in the morning, and I was ... read more
Rainbow Valley
Al Rabi hike
Al Rafisah - The Walk

Africa » Ethiopia » Afar Region » Danakil Depression April 14th 2024

In the morning, we woke fairly early and had a quick breakfast before setting back out to the salt flats. Here, we were heading to the opposite end than the lake and it was flat and open, so the cars hauled it. This was our last adventure in this area and the highlight. Dallol Hot Springs We stopped briefly for the sunrise (see previous post), and soon got to the base of the Danakil geothermal area: Dallol Hot Springs. As with the rest of the area, this is part of the Afar Triangle in the Danakil Depression, which is formed from the divergence of three tectonic plates. It's one of the lowest places in Africa, and the hottest place in the world regarding average annual temperature. It was indeed super hot. These springs probably formed from ... read more
Dallol Hydrothermal area
Dallol Hydrothermal area
Dallol Hydrothermal area

Africa » Ethiopia » Afar Region » Danakil Depression April 12th 2024

After driving through the long lava fields, we found a place for lunch. Shade was extremely limited here, so we took shelter in a washed out road culvert with essentially three parking bays that we shared with the other tourists. Very interesting case of 'use what you have.' We had some more pasta with that spicy tomato sauce and some sauteed spinach. Yum. Then we just hung out for a little bit. Our guide said we did not want to arrive too early because it would still be hot, so we would take some time here. We got through the town of Hamed Ela where we were going to stay the night. It was a small, mostly open hut and we would be sleeping on the traditional cots outside under the stars. I really enjoyed this ... read more
Salt lake
Wine at sunset
Salt flat

Africa » Ethiopia » Afar Region » Danakil Depression April 11th 2024

After leaving Lalibela, we had to fly back to Addis Ababa to connect to Mekele. Thankfully, we just hung out in the domestic terminal, even though we did have to go back through security again - strange set up. Other than that, fairly smooth flight to Mekele, a proper city of around 300,000 people. We were picked up from the airport by the owner of the travel company who drove us to Homeland Hotel, our place for the evening. We were checked in fairly quickly and then we all met for a dinner at the hotel to discuss the next phase of our trip. The owner told us that we would be picked up early the next morning and, due to security concerns in this area still recovering from the Tigray war, just to do what ... read more
Erta Ale Volcano
Erta Ale Volcano
Erta Ale Volcano

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Lalibela April 10th 2024

My next adventure with Trekkup was during our week-long Eid al Fitr holiday. This was kind of a bucket list of Ethiopia adventures, starting with Lalibela, which is known for its World Heritage Site rock hewn churches. I have wanted to come here for years and it was finally happening! Flight from Dubai to Addis Ababa was fine, very crowded. I have avoided Addis Ababa airport for the last few years because there is always something that happens to me there. At least on this connection, it was ok, just had trouble finding the domestic terminal, which was about a 15-minute walk away. They are clearly doing a lot of renovations on the international terminal there, which we were able to see on our way home. For now, it was just to get through customs and ... read more
St Gabriel and St Raphael churches
Beyaynatu - delicious!!!!
Asheton St Maryam Monastery

South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires » Buenos Aires March 23rd 2024

Between Antarctica and Uruguay, we stayed in the nice Paz Hotel, getting a taxi from the EZE airport. This hotel was near where we had previously stayed at the Sheraton with Atlas Ocean Voyages. This time, we just had one short night before our ferry to Uruguay early the next morning. I chose the location because we would be able to walk to the ferry terminal. I looked up nearby restaurants for dinner and found a speakeasy with good reviews. So, I booked at the Floreria Atlantico a few weeks ahead of time and now it was time to check it out. It was about 3 blocks walking distance and we passed by a flower shop and stopped outside a little restaurant bar area. I thought I had read that you go through the flower shop ... read more
First speakeasy
National History Museum
Floreria Atlantico

South America » Uruguay » West » Colonia del Sacramento March 22nd 2024

The bus station in Montevideo was actually very nice and the 3-hour journey to Colonia del Sacramento was easy. We arrived at the station and got tickets pretty quickly, with assigned seats. We waited in the main terminal which was nice and clean until it was time to board our bus, which was mostly on time. We were seated toward the back and continued to pick up people at some small stops along the way until there was standing room only, though it was not super crowded like I had seen on other buses in Latin America. We arrived in Colonia del Sacramento a little after 12 and made our way 10 blocks (approximately 1km) to our hotel: Posada Plaza Mayor. It was a very easy, pleasant walk. I mean, two minutes in town and it ... read more
Posada Plaza Mayor
Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia del Sacramento

After our return from Ushuaia, we stayed at the nice hotel, Palacio Paz, near our previous Sheraton Hotel and in a nice park setting. I'll go more into some random nights in Buenos Aire later, but this was just a holdover for our early morning ferry to Montevideo, Uruguay. We checked out of the hotel around 5:30am and walked about 20 minutes to the Buquebus Terminal. Here, we had a very easy, smooth check-in, including immigration for both Argentina and Uruguay in one location. It is a lovely terminal and we just got some juice and coffee while we waited to board. Our ferry was almost empty so we had our pick of seats. I slept 2 of the 3-hour ride to Montevideo. On arrival, we quickly picked up our backpacks and exited the terminal. I ... read more
Plaza Independencia
Mercado del Puerto
Museum of the Andes 1972

Antarctica » Antarctica March 18th 2024

Immediately after our last excursion to the landing at Portal Point, we were on our way. We had 2.5 days to cross the Drake Passage and get back to Ushuaia in time for our flight out. Our last night, we had a lovely sunset as well as a special treat from the kitchen: Baked Antarctica (a take on Baked Alaska). This was the night of 5 desserts, so this was in addition! This was also more along what I had envisioned the Drake Passage being. The swells and waves were a bit more fun and made it more difficult to walk. The poor guys on the back deck presenting the little celebration were rolling and we were trying to get video and photos, but it was entertaining in a different way. On the return, our routine ... read more
Docking in Ushuaia
Leaving Ushuaia

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