We recently asked the Crooked Compass staff what their favourite travel books were to inspire travel and wanderlust. We received lots of great recommendations so here are just a few to get your travel inspiration flowing. There is nothing better in life than finding a sunny spot outside, making your favourite cup of tea and enjoying a great read…
Out of Africa – Karen Blixen
Yes, we already know what you are thinking – Out of Africa is the obvious choice for a book to read to inspire travels to this amazing continent. But there is a reason that this 1937 book garnered critical and popular acclaim, especially in Britain and America. The book is a lyrical meditation on Blixen’s life on her coffee plantation, as well as a tribute to some of the people who touched her life there. It provides a vivid snapshot of African colonial life in the last decades of the British Empire.
This autobiographical novel, Out of Africa, is comprised of a series of observations of the African landscape and character sketches of the East Africans and transplanted Europeans Blixen met there. The award-winning 1985 film version, which won an Oscar for best picture, prompted a resurgence of interest in the book and helped place it on the best-seller list several years after her death. If you are short on time you could always watch the movie, it has an amazing soundtrack to boot!
To plan your own Out of Africa trip check out how Crooked Compass can help you experience this epic destination. We promise it will be a trip you never forget!
The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron
The Land Beyond – A Thousand Miles on Foot Through the Heart of the Middle East. There are many reasons why it might seem unwise to walk, mostly alone, through the Middle East. That, in part, is exactly why Leon McCarron did it. From Jerusalem ‘” the holiest city in the world and epicenter of conflict in the Middle East ‘” McCarron followed a series of wild hiking trails that trace ancient trading and pilgrimage routes and traverse some of the most contested landscapes in the world. In the West Bank, he met families struggling to lead normal lives amidst the political turmoil. In Jordan, he visits the ruins of Hellenic citadels. Across the vast and empty deserts of Sinai, he finishes atop the sacred mountain. It is a pilgrimage that takes him back through time, from the quagmire of current geopolitics to the original ideals of faithful men, and along the way looks at the fine layers of history, culture, and religion that have shaped the Holy Land.
If this book has inspired you to travel to the Middle East or revisit a favourite destination once travelled before then check out the many fascinating tours we have on offer; we highly recommend our Walking in Palestine experience.
Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham
This book is a compelling page-turner written by an author who truly has a gift for writing. Andrew X. Pham was born in war-torn Vietnam; he and his family risked their lives to go to the United States as refugees when he was a child.
Catfish and Mandala is the story of a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam in pursuit of both Pham’s adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland. Growing up as a quasi-outsider in the US, Oham is astonished to have the same feeling as an outsider in his birth country. His objective was to cycle through the country, and while this would have been a compelling enough story, it’s really the cultural reflections and Andrew’s feelings and difficulties that make it such an interesting read.
If this vibrant and picaresque memoir has inspired your travel bug then Crooked Compass can unlock a trip to Vietnam or anywhere in Asia that may be of interest to you.
The Happy Isles of Oceania – Paul Theroux
A list of books written about travel would not be complete without mentioning the great Paul Theroux. He has written some of the best travel books and won awards too numerous to mention. If you are a lover of train journeys then get your hands on The Old Patagonia Express or Riding The Iron Rooster. Also worth a read is his Sailing Through China: an account of a cruise down the Yangtze River of China which offers commentary on the author’s journey from Chungking to Shanghai, his fellow travelers, and the Chinese people, culture, scenery, landmarks, and cities.
The book we are recommending is one of his most exotic and breathtaking journeys. Read about Theroux’s adventures to the South Pacific, exploring fifty-one islands by collapsible kayak. Beginning in New Zealand’s rain forests and ultimately coming to shore thousands of miles away in Hawaii, Theroux paddles alone over isolated atolls, through dirty harbors and shark-filled waters, and along treacherous coastlines. This exhilarating tropical epic is full of disarming observations and high adventure.
If you would like to make a trip to one of our many destinations in Oceania your own then we would love to help you make this your next adventure.
If you would like more information on any of these tours and to learn more about the other destinations we travel to then please get in contact with us – we would love to make one of these experiences yours!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.