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Blogging from the Wild

Women in Iran's Travel Industry

Wild Frontiers' Mark Steadman recently undertook some guide training in Iran, and wasn't surprised to find so many women in attendance. Here he explains why, for many of us, our perceptions of women's place in Iranian society is wrong.

The Crocodile Men of Papua New Guinea

WF tour leader Mark Steadman describes the incredible customs and traditions of the famous 'Crocodile Men' of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.

Experiencing the Spirit of Laos

Mark Steadman describes his travels while leading our Laos Unlocked tour, and shares his thoughts on the development that is beginning to change the country.

Blogging from the Road (Three): The Journey is Part of the Experience

Bats swirled eerily around my head as I peered through a crack in the rocks, revealing a shaft of brilliant light illuminating the mouth of the cave.  Stalagmites and stalactites edged the entrance like a set of ancient limestone jaws.  In the emerald lake below plate size silhouettes of fish rest…

Blogging from the Road (Two): Caves of Sacrifice

If dawn beside Kong Lor Cave is my favourite place to wake up in Laos, my favourite place to fall sleep would be Vieng Xai, nestled among the towering limestone karsts, surrounded by the secret cave city that plotted the revolution. For nine years bombs rained down on the north eastern, central and …

Blogging from the Road (One): Dawn Storms & Fuel Tank Boats

Ever wondered how a new tour comes together? After our successful trip in the wilds of northern Laos earlier this year - experiencing the unique spectacle of ‘Laos on ice’, my Laos - loving clients asked for a southern equivalent. So once the term at Lone Buffalo came to a close, I packed my tru…

An Ode to Iran

Imagine a place so friendly that cars stop and slow to wave strangers across the road...  Where shopkeepers come out of their shops to shake hands and offer free fruit and wares.  Where nuclear workers from Tehran shake hands and drink tea with American walkers in the mountains.  Where stra…

Wilder Laos Part Two: A Tropical Ice Adventure

Mark Steadman and his group get caught in the ice in far northern Laos... We already knew that our river journey to Phongsali in Laos’s far north would have to be broken by the Chinese dam that now reduces the flow of the Ou River to a trickle in places. Our plan was to drive to the other side of…

Wilder Laos

After falling in love with Laos’ laid back charm and stunning natural beauty, the WF travellers on my Laos Unlocked recce tour in 2014 asked me to put together a follow up trip to explore the wild northern areas. Here’s how we got on – it didn’t always go to plan... Eighty per cent mountainous, w…

A Persian Winter

Mark Steadman knows Iran well and has led many of our tours there, but for the first time, he sees it in winter light. Although the usual deep orange sunset marked my arrival into Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International, it was accompanied by something unfamiliar – a chill in the air. I was excited …

A Journey of Understanding: Travelling Through Laos

Tourists go to places. Travellers journey there. It’s this distinction that separates camera-waving visitors crammed into touristy restaurants from small groups, sharing smiles and noodles with local villagers. The journey to a destination should be absorbed; it provides the key to understanding the…

Reflecting on Burma's Sea Gypsies: A Vanishing World?

After leading our group tour The Sea Gypsies of Burma, Mark Steadman reflects upon his time with the Moken and the state of the future that lies ahead for them in Burma. Sometimes the uniqueness of a travel experience hits you later; the more you think about those special encounters, those perfec…

Squid Noodles & Punk Rockers - Island Hopping in the Andaman Sea

An ex-punk himself, guide Mark Steadman delights in finding his pink-haired kindred spirit while leading our new group tour The Sea Gypsies of Burma on Burma's islands of the Andaman Sea.  In contrast to the tight knit, sleepy island of Salat Galet where we met Marjui, the Moken lady, Makyone Gal…

Moken Encounters - No Word for Worry?

Mark Steadman, recently voted Wanderlust's Best Guide in the World, has just returning from leading our new group tour The Sea Gypsies of Burma on Burma's islands of the Andaman Sea. Here he spends time with the Moken people who, he discovers, have no word for worry. Hakuna Matata? The lines on M…

Coconuts and cashews - Mergui Island, Andaman Sea

Mark Steadmen, recently voted Wanderlust's Best Guide in the World, continues leading his group around Burma's islands, sharing coconuts with local fishing families, on our new group tour The Sea Gypsies of Burma. Stepping onto white virgin sands, fringed with looping coconut palms, gave us our f…

Burma’s Offbeat Surprises: The Sea Gypsies

Mark Steadman, recently voted the Best Guide in the World by Wanderlust, was keen to meet the "vagabonds de la mer", otherwise known as Burma's "sea-gypsies", who have lived an aquatic-nomadic way of life for the past 4000 years. Mark tells us about his recent recce trip on our new group tour to mee…

Enjoying Persian Hospitality in Iran

"Let's go and make some new friends" – I say to my tour groups in Iran. This part of the world is the home of hospitality – and once you get off the bus things start to happen… There’s only so much you can learn about a place with a windowed glass barrier between you and the outside world; step o…

Stylish Shiraz

Our approach to Shiraz was spectacular; we swapped the orchards and walnut forests of the Bavanat Valley for the tombs and palaces of the Persian Achaemenid Kings – guardians of the biggest empire ever seen at the time. After retracing the footsteps of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes through Pasagade and N…

A Warm Welcome in Tehran

"I love you! I love you!" shouted a traditionally dressed lady, waving with both hands as she passed us in the street – it's great to be back in the 'Axis of People’… And there’s never been a better time to come to Iran… In Shiraz the famed roses are blooming and in Isfahan the Zayandeh river is …

Exploring Central Laos

There was a collective ‘wow’ as we headed for the chink of light, exiting the cave in our long tail boats. We’ve just spent the last hour in near darkness on an underground river – welcome to central Laos… Northern Laos' appeal is instant; stunning mountain scenery, dusty villages, mysterious Sto…

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