10 best Travel Experiences not found in a travel agency
Category : Other Travel Tips
10 best Travel Experiences you won’t find in a travel agency
People often ask me what are the best places you have been or what are the best travel experiences you have had?
You won’t find these experiences advertised in a tour brochure. Here are some of them.
On a trip to the Sahara, I hired a car with 2 French Canadian girls. During the days we spent in remote Morocco, we had police investigate our border town hotel room in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. We had a stone puncture our petrol tank whilst driving in the Sahara. It was repaired by a hitch hiker we had picked up who also invited us to a very colourful Berber wedding paid for by Moroccan royalty.
2. Colombian Amazon
When in Leticia (Amazonas, Colombia) I hired a guide with a Danish and Norwegian guy. We took a small boat down a small tributary of the Amazon bordering Colombia and Brazil to visit a tribe of natives who still told the time by distance and distance by how long it took to get there. On the way we left a German guy who spoke to Spanish or Portuguese to hunt local tiger with the natives who spoke to English or German. For the people we stayed with modern things like aircraft and cameras were difficult concepts to explain. Whilst we were there, they caught a 6ft python that lived below the hut. We stayed in hammocks.
3. Zaire – locals in a small remote village / firing bow and arrow with pygmies
We stopped the overland vehicle in a small remote village. The kids had never seen a vehicle stop nor had they ever seen a person with facial hair. I had a beard at the time. The kids were fascinated by it and could not resist touching it. The local men could not grow facial hair. Fortunately, the natives who lived here all spoke French and we spoke until it was time for everyone to go to bed.
In another area of Zaire, I was taken down river by marijuana smoking pygmies in their dugout canoes. The pygmies taught me to shoot bow and arrows that they had constructed from what the local forest offered.
4. Camerounian witch doctor
Whilst exploring the small town of Rhumsiki, I met the town’s witch doctor and had dinner with him on the floor of his small mud hut. He showed me his collection of potions, explaining what they were used for. Many seemed to be similar to the western remedies of old.
5. Sitting with kids in El Djem Tunisia
ElDjem housed an old Roman amphitheatre that tourists visited during the day. However,I missed the train out of El Djem. I was sitting in the shade of a tree and on a fence near to avoid the strong sun. School finished and the area became the school bus stop. Before long I was speaking with the 20 or so students and their teacher. It was a wonderful interaction as we compared the differences between our respective countries and lifestyles.
6. Death Highway in the back of a truck and flight out on a military airline
I took a ride in the back of a truck down Death Highway in Bolivia. The views were amazing, stretching from sea level to 6000 metres. At many times during the descent there were walls on either side that seemed to be 1000ft high with little crosses lining the sides where countless people had fallen to their deaths. At times, police inspected the vehicle for drugs. When we arrived at the jungle the truck made the last 10 kms under moon light with no headlights as they were no longer working.
In order to get to a brother’s wedding, I had to take the military airline back to La Paz and another flight to Santiago in Chile to get a flight back to Sydney. The problem was that the plane kept getting delayed. When we eventually arrived at the airstrip it was a grass strip with a building that said aeropuerto. There were no other signs. Inside, a man opened a cupboard and pulled out a table and a chair. He opened a box and sold the departure tax stamps. Meanwhile the plane landed and as there were not enough seats for everyone, I helped the crew load the gear to try and help my chances.At the same time, someone else was on a ladder checking the fuel. Once on board, I found that the plane had crash landed the day before. I was lucky enough to get a seat. Some people sat on the floor.
7. Ankor Wat motorcycle and ute taxis
I arrived at Ankor Wat on the back of a motorcycle taxi whilst my pack was brought between the legs of the rider. After seeing some remarkable ruins, I exited the country in the back of a ute, driving more off the roads than on them. On the way to Cambodia, kids collected tolls as we drove through their village.
8. Swimming with sea lions in the Enchanted Islands
One of my most amazing wildlife related experiences was swimming with playful sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. They were like playing with small puppy dogs. They would interact with my movements, blowing bubbles to each other. Their underwater aquobatics were a sight to behold as they changed direction effortlessly performing loop the loops in response to my own swimming patterns.
9. Kayaking with a humpback whale swimming under in Antarctica
When in Antarctica, I was lucky enough to kayak through areas with immense icebergs. Whilst the scenery was otherworldly and the penguins populations were both noisy and smelly, the highlight was having a couple of humpback whales swim under my kayak, turning as they did to investigate me. These curious gentle giants of the sea were as interested in me as I was in it, their huge eyes watching me as they swam under.
10. Shaking hands with wild lemurs in Madagascar / Road to Morondova
Whilst backpacking around Madagascar I was able to hand feed some wild lemurs outside one of the jungle lodges where I stayed. These gentile lemurs have very soft human like hands and were a pleasure to interact with.
In another instance, in a remote area of Madagascar, I had taken a minibus from Fiantarasoa to a remote area on the way to Morondova. We had entered the jungle and stopped at a small village. We entered the only restaurant. There were two choices I was told – chicken or fish. I settled on chicken as the fish was quite a way away. After dinner, I exited the restaurant and re-boarded the minibus. Someone had placed there live chicken in the foot well where my feet had been prior to the restaurant stop. It squawked as I almost trod on it. At the same time the Madagascan lady was trying to say something to me. It was jungle hot and humid and the radio was playing French music about the snow falling. As we set off the rain streamed down and we navigated our way through a jungle of pot holes. Later we passed a village with sellers asleep at their kerosene lamp lit tables .