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Blogging from the Wild

Escaping to Rural Macedonia on Foot

Marc recently visited Macedonia on a recce trip and describes his visit to the town of Galicnik, which only has two permanent residents, and his walk through the area's stunning scenery.

Packing - Two Decades Later

Perhaps I’m getting slightly nostalgic as I approach my twentieth year working in the travel industry but I can’t help but contrast what I used to pack in the 90s with what found its way into my luggage for my recent trip to India & Sri Lanka. Looking back I can recall with incredible clarity the…

Madagascar's Beautiful Baobabs

Head of Group Tours Marc has just returned from a two week recce around Madagascar. Below he talks about the appeal of the country's fascinating baobab trees. It seems that everyone likes a good baobab and that they invite universal acclaim a bit like the Taj Mahal... or penguins. What is it t…

An Alternative Side to Iran

The Alborz Mountains of Northern Iran are the setting for an intriguing 1000 year-old story of drugs and murder. According to Marco Polo, in the 11th century a charismatic Persian leader named Hassan al-Sabbah had a band of followers, whom he regularly encouraged to smoke marijuana. Whilst in an int…

10 things my parents didn't know about Montenegro

1. It is NOT in South America but in Europe.2. The recent James Bond film “Casino Royale” was partially set here.3. It is home to Europe’s deepest canyon, the Tara Canyon, which at 1300m in places even rivals the Grand Canyon in depth.4. It is a mountainous country with more than 50% of its land in …

Confessions of a European travel snob

There is a darker side to travel that is rarely acknowledged. For while (clichéd though it may be) travel can undoubtedly broaden the mind and help bring diverse peoples closer together, it can also turn some well-journeyed souls into downright bores and travel snobs. Now obviously I had always pri…

Lunch for 10,000

  • 26th June 2012

Friday is the main day of the (2½ day!) Kurdish weekend and regardless of whether or not the weather is as sunny as it was for us, there is no greater pastime for Kurds than to go picnicking. After the harrowing morning we’d had at Halabja, we decided to join the masses at one of the most beautiful …

A morning in Halabja

  • 24th June 2012

Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Chernobyl, Srebrenica. Certain place names have become inextricably linked with the events that once happened there. Halabja is one such place. Many will know the story - on 16th March 1988, Saddam launched a chemical attack upon the city of Halabja indiscriminately killing ap…

Remembering the evils of Saddam

  • 22nd June 2012

Today has not been an easy day. After a quick foray into Iraq proper as we bypassed Kirkuk en route to Kurdistan’s second city, Sulymaniyah, we made for the Amna Suraka, the Red Security building once used by Saddam’s most feared guards to imprison, interrogate and torture (not necessarily in that o…

Beyond Islam

  • 20th June 2012

While most people would associate Iraq these days almost exclusively with Islam, over the last 2 days we have been privileged to encounter some of the minority faiths still in existence in the country.  One such group we met were Chaldean Christians. With their home in ancient Assyria (i.e. pretty …

Into the Mountains of Kurdistan

  • 19th June 2012

Not so long ago, Kurds in Turkey were forbidden from speaking Kurdish and were instead officially known as “Mountain Turks” who had forgotten their language. Given the fact that Turkish is a language that stemmed from the Mongolian steppe and that Kurds speak a language most closely associated with …

Guess who's flying to Kurdistan

  • 19th June 2012

Whenever I’m travelling to an off-beat destination such as Iraqi Kurdistan, I’m always intrigued as to who my fellow passengers will be on the flight, especially as in the past I’ve found it to be quite an insightful glimpse into the destination country as a whole. In 2008, when I flew to Baku in A…

In Iraqi Kurdistan

  • 18th June 2012

I really should apologise more to my mother. While her friends are helping arrange weddings for their kids or enjoying time with their grandchildren, she instead gets to spend restless nights knowing that her son is travelling again, and this time to Iraq. However I should point out that this is Ir…

Palestine or not to Palestine

Unless you’ve been living on remote island without any access to the rest of the world, you’re unlikely to have missed the events that have affected the Middle East so dramatically over the last 15 months.While all of us here in the WF office have been carefully following how the changes have touche…

Afghanistan comes to London

  • 5th April 2011

After having been to Afghanistan in 2009 (for the Wakhan Trek) and 2010 (for the Afghan Explorer) and having not been, rather embarrassingly, to the British Museum since I was at school, I jumped at the opportunity last Friday to accompany two fellow members of the 2009 trip to go and see the Afghan…

Marc in Bamiyan - Afghanistan

As the group have just flown out of Kabul, I am left with a few hours to reflect on our last few days. Working in travel I have been fortunate to have seen some of the world's most amazing places and yet nothing truly prepared me for the wonders of Bamiyan. I am so glad that Jonny authorised the exp…

Marc in Afghanistan - Panjshir Valley

Just what is it with boys & their military toys? Today saw us take a wonderful trip into the beautiful Panjshir Valley, famed for being the route taken by Alexander The Great on his way to the Oxus and also for being the one part of the country never controlled by the Soviets. Apart from having some…

Marc travelling through the Salang Tunnel

The next time you find yourself moaning about traffic on the M25, just remember that there are worse places in the world and one of them has got to be the Salang Tunnel. Built in the 1960s with Soviet assistance, the tunnel cuts through the Hindu Kush at an altitude of over 3500m providing a year-ro…

Marc - News from Mazar

Afghanistan is famous for many things, but alas its cuisine is not one of them. While it's absolutely fine and often quite tasty, there are only so many kebabs that the average Brit can take in a week and so this evening in Mazar e Sharif we took ourselves off to the promising Royal Cafe with its en…

Marc - A change of plans brings new ventures for Afghan group

It may be a cliche and I wouldn't say that EVERY cloud has a silver lining, but today's one certainly did. We had been scheduled today to travel to Bamiyan - the place where the great Buddhas once stood before the Taliban destroyed them. Perhaps surprisingly, despite their destruction, the place sti…

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