We are thrilled that Intrepid’s Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt is a finalist for the prestigious Wanderlust World Guide Awards 2012. This is the fifth year that Intrepid group leaders have either won or been shortlisted for the accolade of world’s best tour guide.
Monty follows in the footsteps of Bruno Dawsan, Intrepid’s guide in Sri Lanka who received gold in the 2011 awards and bronze in 2010. Tejendra Singh took the bronze award in 2009 and Esam Abd El Salam from Egypt won the gold award in 2008.
With 53,000,000 girls in developing countries being denied access to primary school, there’s no prize for guessing what type of future lies ahead for most of these young women. Gender inequality remains a massive issue, so Intrepid has partnered with Plan for project SAMA. Our aim is to bridge the gender gap through education and our first focus is establishing parenting and community learning groups in up to 45 villages in Laos.
Plan has had encouraging results with other programmes that instil gender equality at an early age and their initiative in El Salvador is an example of how education early in life is a great foundation for a more equal and violence-free society…
At home we often fall into the trap of not being able to see beyond the world in which we live. Tina Jensen’s story is about her journey of discovery in Vietnam, where she tried things that she would never do at home and gained a whole new outlook on life…
“Intrepid’s promise of “discovering worlds beyond your own” conjures up images of new places, faces, experiences, the excitement of the unknown. It gets people thinking. Gets people dreaming. Gets people wanting to get out of the confines of their every day lives and see more of the world. I love it!
As a child, Miss Chanh felt hopeless. She was born with clubfeet and could not run around like the other kids. She had great difficulty walking and had to use crutches to move around. Chanh lives in the very beautiful and mountainous Oudomxay province in the north west of Laos.
Although the treatment now offered through the centres for babies born with clubfoot is non-invasive and highly successful, it was not available 20 years ago when Chanh was born. During her teens, Chanh received an orthotic, but over time it broke and was painful.
Peace on earth – this is something we all hope for, but do we really expect to find it? Dara Leonard went in search of somewhere tranquil and her journey led her to Botswana…
“Have you ever felt 100% at peace with yourself and what you were doing? The first time I had this feeling was when I was in the Okavango Delta. If you can picture this scene… the sun is shining bright overhead, there is a slight breeze on a perfectly warm day. You head down to the water’s edge where the mokoros (local canoes traditionally made from a dugout tree) are all lined up with people from the nearby community there to help load the boats. .
Phuong* ran away from home when he was 10 years old. He was born in the far north of Vietnam. His mother lives in China and his father sold him to an extended family member when he was just 7 years old. His adopted family treated him badly, and insisted that he work on the streets instead of going to school. Phuong ran away to Hanoi.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation staff met him in late 2011 at the local market. Sadly, they’ve been unable to locate a family member willing or able to take care of him. So now Phuong is living at Blue Dragon’s shelter in Hanoi where he’s being supported to go back to school. He’s a really happy, friendly kid and loves going to school every day.
Stepping out of our comfort zones can so often lead to our most amazing real life experiences. For Julie-Anne McMackin you couldn’t get much more uncomfortable than stripping off in front of strangers, but she mustered the courage on her Intrepid Morocco trip…
“I loved getting lost in the chaotic, crowded splendour of the Medina in the imperial cities. I lost my heart to a blue-eyed Berber who would have given Aladdin a run for his money and learnt how to wrap my head in the traditional Berber headdress to protect my face from the windblown sand that shapes the dunes as it races towards the endless horizons of the desert. But the most boundary-stretching, confronting and life-affirming experience of my time in this wonderful country was my visit to a hammam, or local bath.
Bathing in an outdoor onsen (hot spring bath) in Japan is one of those very memorable real life experiences. But mustering the courage to shed your inhibitions could end up a travel blooper rather than a holiday highlight, so David Atkinson helps us take the plunge…
“Bath time had never been so tricky. Here I was, tackle out and goose bumps spreading like a bad rash, prancing between the centuries-old dipping pools of a pristine hot springs resort in Japan. Set against a serene backdrop of mountain scenery, autumnal forests and tiny shrines, the resort oozed a sense of almost Zen-like calm. But inside I was stricken with fear. I mean, what’s the etiquette when getting naked with a bunch of total strangers?
In December 2006 Intrepid made a bold statement announcing our intention to become a carbon neutral company within 4 years. It was a long and winding road to achieve this gutsy move, during some of the most challenging global economic times. However, the hard work paid off and we proudly announced at the end of 2010 that we achieved this goal!
We have a firm Carbon Management Plan in place, with key principles to which we must adhere. We measure how we contribute to global warming; avoid where possible; and what we cannot avoid we reduce. Then where we cannot avoid or reduce, we purchase carbon offsets.
May 20th this year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Restoration of Independence in Timor-Leste. There will be enormous celebrations and you could be there!
Our first Intrepid trip of the season starts on this anniversary, so it’s well worth arriving in the capital, Dili, a day or two early so you have plenty of time to kick up your heels with the locals. There’ll be parades, music and dancing in many of the districts, so no doubt the celebratory feel will carry on throughout Intrepid’s 15 day adventure.