Who would have thought that 2012 would be the year that Intrepid’s Anya Hodson sets herself one of the biggest challenges of her life? It’s not surprising that she’s pledged to do this for a cause that she’s passionate about, as she always gives everything 110%, but the kind of challenge that she’s decided to take on is definitely outside her comfort zone…
“I can recall being in Cuzco last year, climbing hundreds of steps a day and feeling the grip of high altitude tightening on my chest and lungs. The sheer majesty of Macchu Picchu will never be forgotten, but the steep descent down so many steps caused aches in my bones that lingered for days. I remember thinking to myself that I could never do a trip that involved trekking or cycling for days on end – I just didnt think that I had it in me.
You’ve seen shows on TV where family trees are traced back and relatives are reunited, but how often does this really happen? When Tony Bloomfield booked an Intrepid trip in Croatia he had one special wish, to find out more about his father…
“Firstly a bit of background to my story. My father came from Korcula (family name Stanisich) to New Zealand in the middle 1930s and later married my mother. Unfortunately he was killed in a work-related accident when I was very young and my mother eventually remarried. In 2005, my mother, older sister and I went to Croatia. We visited Korcula and the village of Pupnat, where my father was from, in hope of meeting family members. We had an interpreter organised, but he failed to show up and sadly we left without making any contact.
In 2004, Benj Binks started working for Intrepid as a group leader on the Trans-Siberian Railway. He soon found himself in Mongolia and was caught off guard by the bustling modern city of Ulaanbaatar, with its cafes, trendy youth and hip hop. Mongolia soon became a highlight of his 3-week trips, and Benj fell in love with the country’s culture, people and music.
After leaving Intrepid, Benj pursued a career in filmmaking and returned to Mongolia to make his first documentary. Mongolian Bling delves into the world of Mongolian hip hop and explores how the youth are identifying with its beats and rhymes, whilst reconnecting with their ancient music. The film is in its final stages of production, but it’s now ‘all or nothing’. If $50k is not raised by Tuesday, 29 November, Benj and his team will receive nothing. If you want to help bring Mongolian Bling to the big screen, please make your pledge via Kickstarter today!
What’s in a name? Well as it turns out, more than you might think. Boris ‘Bob’ Golodets is an Intrepid group leader in Russia, Mongolia and Central Asia and he’s certainly a great linguist, so he shares his thoughts on what we choose to be called…
“All of us at Intrepid believe that we can learn, or at least try, to call locals by their proper names. But in the tourism industry it’s common for guides to change their names in order to please the clients or make it easier for their travellers. And it’s understandable – in some countries the names are very long and hard to pronounce.
When you come away from a lovely dinner with our Russian hosts it won’t only be your full belly and the vodka nips that give you a warm glow. Intrepid’s Boris ‘Bob’ Golodets explains why a home-cooked meal and meeting the lady of the house are always a highlight…
“She is one of our superstars. I know tonight our Russia Highlights group will go to Lena’s house for dinner and they will love her and have a wonderful evening. She lives in old town Suzdal on so called ‘Grape Street’ – one of the oldest and most famous in the city. Lena can show you the book with photos of her grandfather standing in front of their house with fanciful decorations on its facade.
Many Intrepid travellers to Cambodia visit the Land Mine Museum near Siem Reap and learn of the sad legacy of war – the deaths, the amputees and the estimated five million unexploded ordinance (UXO) and landmines still left in the country. They also may meet the larger-than-life character, Aki Ra, who has just been short-listed in the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2010 – out of 10,000 nominations!
At the age of 10, after being separated from his family through the war, Aki Ra became a child soldier and was given his first rifle that measured his height. He fought firstly with the Khmer Rouge (whose genocidal crusade was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians during the 1970s); he was captured by the Vietnamese and fought for them, then when the Vietnamese left he fought for the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces.
Tracking with the San Bushmen in Namibia is on Intrepid’s Top 10 Real Life Experiences list. Which is no surprise when you read great travel tales like this one from Intrepid’s Jo Edgely…
“Have you ever seen the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy or read Wilbur Smith’s Blue Horizons? If so you will be a little familiar with the amazing San Bushman. The once nomadic tribe now mainly live in and around the Kalahari Desert, but originally the San used the whole of southern Africa as their hunting ground.
The San stole my heart with their friendly welcoming nature and amazing sense of humour. The sound of them talking in ‘clicks’ was something I really did think was fictional before I heard it with my own ears.
Founded in 1949, Tatra National Park (TANAP) is the oldest national park in Slovakia and the former Czechoslovakia. It was created to protect the large coniferous forests, alpine meadows, glaciers and many endemic species of plants and animals. It is home to the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica), plus marmots, bears, wolves, lynx, deer and several birds of prey. Intrepid group leader Tomas Palenik shares with us his concerns about the future of this spectacular region and suggests a way we can help…
“In my role with Intrepid, I visit the Tatry mountains regularly with groups of people from around the world. These people travel here because of the uniqueness of an environment that never disappoints. I am proud that I can guide visitors through my country, its mountains and wilderness. For these reasons I find it unbelievable that there is a plan for so-called ‘development’ that does not respect the protection of nature and is not based on the real values of the region.
While travelling the globe Intrepid staff are fortunate to meet many extraordinary women who are making a difference. One very special lady whom we have enjoyed getting to know through The Intrepid Foundation is Sabriye Tenberken. Originally from Germany, 39 year old Sabriye founded Braille Without Borders and late last year she was one of 13 expatriates honoured with a You Bring Charm to China award. With thanks to the China Daily newspaper, we share with you the following story…
“Sabriye Tenberken not only developed the Tibetan Braille script, but also travelled to the Tibet autonomous region alone and founded the first school for the blind there.