Long before Google maps, Gortex and GPS, the world was a very different place. With so much land yet to be discovered, ‘Explorer’ was a legitimate profession on the census. These roguish, charismatic heroes would return, ravished and ragged, from months of exposure to the severest of earth’s elements – all in the name of discovery, conquest and endurance. And one destination above all had the allure to attract more than its fair share of explorers… Antarctica.
Nestled between the Polar achievements of Scott, Amundsen and Mawson, there is one story that stands out; not for its flag-planting, all-conquering race for recognition, but for its endurance and hope in the face of irrevocable isolation.
Mount Everest – just the name evokes an air of majesty, danger, exploration and for Intrepid’s Jared Alster, a personal challenge. Would Jared be at the top of his game at altitudes of over 5400 metres (17,700 feet), or would a roll of the dice be his downfall in Nepal?…
“Everest National Park lies within the Khumbu region, home to the Sherpa people. They are renowned the world over for having super-human strength and the ability to climb mountains, like Everest, with relative ease compared to un-acclimatised Westerners. On our expedition, we had one Sirdar, or leader, and about five other Sherpas who would watch after us on our adventure.
A few weeks back we asked our global community the question “what inspires you to travel?” Well, the results are in – and thanks to you guys we now know a little bit more about what gets our travellers out of a daydream and into the real world.
When it came to inspirational people, perennial Intrepid favourites such as Shackleton and Nelson Mandela got plenty of love, as did Sir Edmund Hillary, who was clearly responsible for more than a few honorary base camp climbs. Also, apparently a few of you are sporting Che Guevara T-shirts in your wardrobe, because this mustached revolutionary (along with the Buena Vista Social Club) managed to get plenty of you dreaming about sipping Mojitos in Cuba.
There are millions of local characters with fascinating stories to share and Intrepid’s Efrat Margalit loved getting to know one young man from Uzbekistan…
“Muzafar’s parents were born in Iran. Muzafar (a.k.a Raza) was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Like any other Uzbek guy in his early twenties, Raza wanted to get married. In order to find a good wife from a well-respected family, Raza had to have some property and money to offer. For the first time in his life he left his family and Samarkand behind and followed many other Uzbek men to Dubai in search of fortune.
It started with a tweet from Sherry Ott, asking if anyone was interested in doing the Mongol Rally. Pamela MacNaughtan (a.k.a. @spunkygirllogue) thought about that tweet for about 2 minutes, then responded, “I’m in”, the next thing she knew Sherry was connecting her with Charlie Grosso, a photographer from New York, who was looking for a teammate…
“Spanning 1/3 of the world, from London to Ulaan Bataar, the Mongol Rally is 10,000 miles of intense driving, through sand, over mountains, on gravel, through rivers large and small. It’s pure adventure. The route is not set, and support is non-existent. If the car breaks down, then the team needs to figure out how to get it fixed. If there is a border crossing delay, then the team needs to figure out how to deal with it.
On August 18, 1984, Courtney Gilmour was born in Sarnia, Ontario. Her right arm ends just above the wrist, and her left arm ends immediately below the elbow. She has one fully functional leg; her other leg ends mid femur. She uses a prosthetic to assist in walking. To complete tasks, she uses only the ‘nubs’ at the end of her arms. Today, Courtney lives in Toronto and is a writer for several online publications and a sketch writer for the famous comedy school Second City.
Through a short and powerful video by Eric Kruszewski you can learn more about Courtney’s story. Eric has made it his goal to bring awareness to the abnormal health effects caused by industry pollutants…
There are those stand-out travel moments when we meet someone who has an incredible impact on our appreciation of a place and an understanding of its people. Aaron Davis had one of those profound experiences, when with Intrepid he met Kei san in Japan…
“I have been affected by radiation.” Not a sentence I ever thought I’d hear someone say, but in Hiroshima I got to meet and talk to a hibakusha, a survivor of the A-bomb. Kei san is a most remarkable man with a wonderful outlook on life. He was 16 years old when the bomb was dropped and by a stroke of pure luck he was in school in Hiroshima at the time, which offered some defence from the heat and radiation blast.
Less than an hour from Irkutsk, it’s no wonder many Russian and international visitors love visiting Lystvyanka. The village is in the stunning Lake Baikal region, but Intrepid’s Boris Golodets introduces us to another special local attraction…
“Sveta is a vendor at the local village market in Lystvyanka. She has her stall right at the end of the market and not many people notice her in the back corner. In case you’re there – look out for the lady wearing her yellow hat when it’s cold. Seller Sveta lives in Irkutsk and each morning takes a very early public bus to come to the market and returns home late in the evening.
When Maxine Gallagher travelled on Intrepid’s Trans-Mongolian Express trip she expected to be moved by historic sites and the iconic journey, but it was also the ageing women of Russia who left an indelible impression…
“They line the streets, they fill the shops, they push past people in queues to grab 15 ruble bottles of vodka, they sell their motley selections of mushrooms on an old blanket, they walk slowly but purposefully, they stand still against walls, they stare in wonder at garish posters, they hold hands outstretched with dignity. They are Russia’s ever-present babushkas.