Meghalaya and Assam, North India

This time roles were reversed, I was planning this trip for my father. A motorbike tour designed for real adventure, which we got in bucket loads!

A loosely planned journey! Forgetting to zoom in on the computer, we soon found out that our root weaved across the Indian and Bangladeshi border. It also traversed a region that had been impacted by terrorist attacks a year before our visit. Border guards and police threatened to halt our journey, and we ended up staying the night in a jungle station on the kitchen table. Our motorbikes were louder than the locals, explained a police officer with a big gun. Anybody wanting to make a quick buck from stupid tourists would have heard us a mile away. Despite all that, we completed our trip and made it to our destination, the living root bridges of Meghalaya.

Travel is now lost

Today, travel assistants will guide you through countries to the ‘not to be missed’ destinations. You will be guaranteed a bed for the night and reassured that previous visitors have enjoyed their stay with no nasty surprises. All can easily be booked in advance along with accommodation, so people often plan their route even before arriving.

Travel has become easier, safer and less stressful but, to what expense? Perhaps we have lost one of the most exciting elements of travel, ‘chance’ and with it, the sense of discovery, stepping into the unknown with unexpected encounters. Continue reading

Camino

Like most things, I did the Camino de Santiago a little differently from others. I went from Tui, on the border of Portugal straight up North to Santiago. I arrived only to find the scale of my map was not going to help me find the trail.

The next day, with a little help from the local people, I found where it began. Rather disappointingly the first part was pretty drab and industrial, but then it passed through small towns, quiet countryside and interesting tracks. I stayed in Albergues where many locals get up early wearing head torches due to lack of street lighting. It was pretty unpleasant having these shone directly into my face, but seeing the sun rise made my early start worthwhile. Since nobody spoke English and my Spanish was not up to conversation levels, it was just me, Nelson Mandella and the Long Road to Freedom, which seemed appropriate.

 

Azores

Walk in Azores’ strange volcanic landscape and you will find hot springs, vast views and subtropical forests. The only place I know where you can swim in volcanic craters while watching floating rocks. Alternatively, sail out into the ocean to see the biggest living animals, the blue whales.

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It’s time to take another look at animal captivity

Responsible Travel recently reviewed and removed all holidays that visited zoos. The overriding consensus is that ‘animals should not be held in captivity unless there are for good reasons‘. With evidence of abnormal and stereotypic behaviours being shown by many animals in captivity Responsible Travel has decided that it is inhumane to keep animals in unnatural environments. Some of the worrying behaviours exhibited by captive animals can be seen here. Continue reading