Any trip that helps preserve “family travel sanity” is bound to get a thumbs up. Intrepid traveller Elaine Phelan explains why Vietnam proved to be her family favourite…
“I can tell you our Vietnam Family Adventure will stay with us a lifetime. We travelled from north to south, which was great because we experienced the nice juxtaposition of travelling from the culture shock, crowds and chaos of Hanoi to the modern, exciting Ho Chi Minh with its wide boulevards, French Quarter and culture.
While some children arrive at the Amani Children’s Home, an Intrepid Foundation Community Project in Tanzania, having already spent some time at school, others have never sat at a desk or ever touched a book. Such was the case with Baraka and Ima Mathayo, two brothers who arrived at Amani Children’s Home in late 2009.
Baraka, aged 12, and Ima, 10, fled an abusive home in search of safety and an education. The brothers eventually ended up at Amani and, since their arrival, their smiles have been lighting up the library. Though Baraka was wary of adults when he first arrived, he could not resist the allure of books with bright, full-page pictures of wildlife in the Serengeti. Ima sat patiently at a table with Christina, Amani’s special education teacher, receiving his first lesson. In only an hour, Ima had mastered the vowels and had written his first words: his own name, and “ua”, the Swahili word for flower.
When we last heard from Emily Mitterhuemer on her Sacred Land of the Incas trip, her favourite place was the Amazon. But now as she tackles the Lares Trek, maybe it’s more of a thing rather than a place that is her Peru favourite…
“Peruvians believe the coca leaf is the answer to all ills, and I am beginning to believe them. There is an annual marathon up the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This track is 45 kilometres long and rises to as high as 4200 metres above sea level. It takes most tourists 4 days to complete the track, battling with shortness of breath as the air gets thinner. During this race, a porter from the Sacred Valley area ran the track in under 3.5 hours. His secret? Coca leaves.
Intrepid Travel and The Intrepid Foundation have launched an appeal to support the flood-affected people of Peru.
We are pleased to report that the Intrepid Peru Floods Appeal has already raised AU$4160 to support the response of Plan Peru in devastated communities. But with the latest news from Peru, we understand the need for help is growing each day.
The Cuzco region of Peru continues to experience further landslides nearly two weeks after the initial flooding. At 5am on 06 February there was a second landslide in the Zurite area, an area in which Plan works. This landslide was severe, bringing mud up to the second floor of Zurite’s municipal building. According to Plan Peru, no one was hurt.
Emily and Stuart have tossed aside (momentarily) their corporate lives and instead are trying their hand at documentary making for Intrepid in the depths of South America. Here’s an update on their adventures thus far on Sacred Land of the Incas…
“The Amazon jungle immediately struck me as an incredibly peaceful place, where everything is bursting with potential. The earth feels as though it is heaving with life, both visible and invisible to the eye. As I write I am sitting in our jungle lodge room which has no wall to the outside and looks onto a mass of lush and tangled greenery. It is simply furnished with mosquito nets over the beds and a hammock that hangs lazily in the dappled sunlight. It feels like a lifetime away from the noise and bustle of Lima, which we left just a day and a half ago.
Intrepid traveller Claudine Haber has earned her bragging rights, since she conquered thirty Great Wall towers on her breathtaking adventure in China…
“Let’s get one thing straight first off – you cannot see it with the naked eye from the moon. A Chinese astronaut went and checked it out in 2003 and found that he could see other objects, but not the Great Wall of China. Myth dispelled!
It’s 8am. I’ve been in the country for less than 10 hours, but am already downing a crispy piece of Chinese bread from the local vendor on my way to the Great Wall of China. It’s a perfect autumn morning as I arrive at the Simatai gate of the wall with my tour group. The pathway to the wall is lined with maple leaves rich in shades of reds, yellows and oranges. Persimmon trees hang above, their fruit ripe. The fresh wind blows gently across my face. It is perfect feng shui, as the Chinese would say.
Imagine being able to tell your friends that you’ve climbed South East Asia’s highest mountain, watched turtle hatchlings making a dash for the ocean and seen orangutans having breakfast. We get the feeling that Intrepid Express reader Sigrid Everson still hasn’t stopped talking about her Borneo adventure…
“Did I expect to be able to climb Mt Kinabalu to watch the sun rise? Never. But then that’s typical of my unexpected highlights in Borneo. I chose Borneo for my next Intrepid trip because I loved the thought of seeing orangutans in the wild, staying in traditional villages and was prepared to give the mountain climb a go, but what I didn’t anticipate was just how much of a buzz I would get from exploring this fascinating land.
Few of us probably set off on an adventure expecting to meet our soul mate. But when Intrepid’s Nic Everett travelled to Peru, it became obvious that his best buddy was suddenly on a journey of the heart…
“Before the fun of having kids took over my life and put a temporary halt to my travel addiction, I jumped at the chance head off to South America with my good friend Luke ‘Pedro’ Bakey. What better opportunity to use up some frequent flyer points than explore Peru for a couple of weeks I thought. A quick word to the lovely wife and my leave (pass) was approved. Woo hoo, Peru in Depth here I come – Lima, Lake Titicaca, Cuzco, the amazing Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the Amazon Jungle.
A few drinks on night one in Lima and it quickly became apparent our little group of 8 had just the two singles, my good mate Pedro and the lovely Louise from the UK.
The New Year festival of Tet takes place in Vietnam on February 14 this year and this is a joyous time to indulge in eating, drinking and social activities. It’s also when spring is in the air and the wedding season is in full swing, but ex-Intrepid leader John Kirk discovered that getting married might not be as simple as popping the question to your loved one…
“In the past, families enlisted the help of matchmakers to choose marriage partners. Great care was taken to ensure equality, similar background, compatibility in social rank etc. These days, even in the rural areas, couples have more freedom to choose their life partners. However, some Vietnamese are deeply superstitious and fortune-tellers are still consulted by many couples to see if their horoscopes are compatible.