Jo and Jens are no strangers to the Himalaya. With plenty of trekking experience in Bhutan and Tibet, this ambitious couple set their sights on the Three Passes Circuit in Nepal. But that only piqued their appetite for adventure - after sixteen days of trekking, they headed to Myanmar for a totally different kind of fun, complete with a hot air balloon ride over the floating gardens of Inle Lake. Read on to hear more of Jo's travel reflections.

Hi Jo! You and your husband are experienced travelers - tell us more about your pastimes and favorites destinations. 

Jens Richter and Jo Broadhead on the Three Passes Circuit in Nepal (photo courtesy of Jo Broadhead)

My husband, Jens, and I love to travel. As Kiwis, we prioritize time in the outdoors and spend our time camping, multi-day hiking, boating, and horseback riding, while always trying to stay off the tourist path. We've traveled extensively throughout six continents, and many of our trips have taken us to Asia: Japan, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Our globetrotting priorities include amazing landscapes, meeting and interacting with local people, witnessing wildlife, and supporting local businesses. We also love active adventure travel, from snowmobiling in Alaska, Finland, and Norway to skiing, dog sledding, and plenty of high altitude experiences. Though we've been to many places at this point, there are still plenty on our bucket list!

You already have experience trekking in the Himalaya - what treks had you done before, and what got you excited about coming back?

Himalaya views in Nepal (photo courtesy of Jo Broadhead)

We'd trekked several times up in Bhutan, as well as completing three big treks up in Tibet, and we loved them all. Nepal was always on the list. The Three Passes Circuit appealed because the scenery looked amazing. It was a circular trip as opposed to going in and out to Everest Base Camp the same way, and this less-traveled route gave us a chance to get away from the hoards of trekkers once we headed up over the passes. Plus, the length, altitude, and general challenge of the trip appealed to our sense of adventure. 

What about the Three Passes Circuit stood out as unique and special from other treks you've done in the region?

Jo and Jens at Everest Base Camp (photo courtesy of Jo Broadhead)

We went at the beginning of November and had amazing weather. I think every day we had blue skies and incredible mountain vistas. The sheer number of huge mountains surrounding you is just staggering. Also, we stayed in teahouses (with the occasional shower) which felt like total luxury compared to other trips where we were camping in very cold temperatures!

You decided to extend your travels with a two-week visit to Myanmar after your trek. What sparked that decision?

Traditional oxen pulling a cart in Myanmar (photo courtesy of Jo Broadhead)

Asia always appeals as we love the people in the region. Myanmar was of particular interest because its tourism economy is still developing. We wanted to visit before it gets inundated with travelers, and we were not disappointed!

Tell us about traveling between Nepal and Myanmar. How was the planning process? 

Motorbike loaded with flowers for the market in Myanmar (photo courtesy of Jo Broadhead)

Both these trips were organized through kimkim, and it made the entire planning process so much easier. The number of tour operators in Nepal is mind-blowing, so trying to find a good agency was a challenge. Having a resource like kimkim to help direct us according to our preferences was fantastic and very reassuring.

I think both travel organizations we worked with through kimkim were exceptional in helping with the planning so we didn't have any unforeseen challenges. We were specifically looking for guides that speak excellent English and have plenty of experience on the trek - familiarity with the terrain, weather conditions, etc. - and that they are employed by a professional agency that ensures the guides are adequately clothed/trained for the conditions. In Myanmar, we had several different guides and every one of them was outstanding.

We'd love to hear about your hot air balloon ride over Inle Lake and other memorable moments in Myanmar.

Prepping the hot air balloon at Inle Lake, Myanmar (photo courtesy of Jo Broadhead)

We had so many amazing experiences in Myanmar, so picking one is hard! The floating gardens on Inle Lake are incredible. It was recommended that we do a hot air balloon ride over Inle Lake, and we are so glad that we did. Seeing the floating gardens from above gave us a whole new perspective, and it was wonderful watching all the early morning activity on the lake. It was a real highlight.

We loved Bagan as well - the temples are beautiful and the setting is just magic beside the river - an evening sunset cruise is a must! One of the best parts was driving from Pindaya to Kalaw in the late afternoon through the rural backroads. All the local farmers were heading home with their ox carts laden with hay or goods. It felt like we were getting a glimpse of the real Myanmar, and I loved soaking it in.

Where are you planning to go on your next adventure?

Jens and Jo on a sunset cruise in Bagan (photo courtesy of Jo Broadhead)

In June we head up to Svalbard, Norway on a polar bear photography trip!

Jo's trip was planned through kimkim by Anne Cruikshanks, our local travel specialist based in Mandalay, and Ngima Dorji Sherpa, our local travel specialist based in Kathmandu.