As the global Covid-19 puts a halt to our gallivanting on adventures and has most of us adventurous types straining on our virtual leash past the invisible 2km exercise zone, we can still dream and plan of outdoor adventures to come. Life has been put in perspective for us all. So there is no better time to armchair travel with some of the best travel books of all times. Here is our pick of ripping travel reads to transport you while on lockdown.
Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know- Sir Ranulph Fiennes
An autobiography, written in his 75th year by one of the most macho heroes of travel, adventurism and exploration to the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible places. From the top of Everest, from Pole to Pole, to finding ‘lost’ cities, the world’s greatest living explorer is not known for taking the easy route at any time. He lost fingers and almost lost his life, but throughout his entire life has never lost the enthusiasm for thrilling adventure. Fiennes has been an elite soldier, an athlete, a mountaineer, an explorer, a bestselling author who nearly replaced Sean Connery as James Bond, and indeed, his writing does read like a ‘Boys Own’ Spiffing adventure at times. Live through his ambitious expeditions, extreme adventures and inspiring resilience from the comfort of your backyard hammock and start making plans for your next great escape.
Couchsurfing in Iran – Stephan Orth
For fans of Couchsurfing (the more altruistic and friendlier forerunner of Airbnb) and unusual travel with social and political insight, this book captures all of the most wonderful things about staying on stranger’s couches in a destination that most westerners would never choose to visit. Couchsurfing is banned and yet over a hundred thousand Iranians are registered with the portal. Orth is a generous storyteller, sharing sights, sounds and emotions to give a fascination and gripping picture of life in modern Iran. Stephan is the guest of 22 different hosts, travels over 8,400 kilometres in 62 days to discover the hidden Iran. A bed roll, a haversack and a lot more optimism than most, this is a tale of travel adventures to the max. From border guards to taxi drivers, we learn more about Iranians and the similarities of people everywhere. The tone is light and breezy, and this is a road that is definitely ‘less travelled’ as the author dispels myths about Iran in a gripping and fascinating read.
Buen Camino – Peter Murtagh
This book is not a travel or route guide to the wonderful Camino, but rather is a spell bounding recounting of Peter Murtagh’s own experiences on the pilgrimage trail. Peter and his daughter Natasha stepped out on the 900 kilometre walk through the Way of Saint James, over the French Pyrenees and into Northern Spain. What began as a gruelling physical trek quickly becomes a spiritual journey and a bonding experience. Despite the hardships, they run with bulls, parade in a fiesta and meet a fine range of other pilgrims on the way. For anyone who’s Camino journey was cut short this year, this book will keep the fires of adventure lit until you too can walk the well-worn paths to the Santiago de Compostela. A warm and loving story of friendship, family, camaraderie and wonderful scenery too!
Epic Hikes of the World – Lonely Planet
What an inspiring publication. It won’t just set you dreaming, it will have you salivating and mentally packing the rucksack. Lonely planet asked over 200 travel writers to tell them about their most memorable hikes. Many spoke of personal challenges, both physical and mental. One common theme was the connection that you can find when you hike a certain destination. The words ‘Life Changing’ were used a lot. This book brings 50 of the most inspiring routes, stories and adventures for you to enjoy from your armchair. We may be staying put at the moment, but this wonderful collection will have you planning for a brighter future while living vicariously through the retelling of others.
Nala’s World- Dean Nicholson
A Scottish man on a bike ride around the world. His plan. Visit as much of the world as he can. Learn as much as he can. Retell it in a book and on social media. Cue Nala, the rescue cat that he finds in the mountains between Montenegro and Bosnia. An unbreakable bond that ensures Dean Nicholson is an overnight Instagram sensation. Well, it combines travel, cycling, Scottish accents and … a cute cat. Win Win. Experiencing the kindness of strangers, visiting refugee camps, rescuing animals throughout Europe and Asia, Dean and Nala are a dynamic travelling duo. The book, Nala’s World is on its way to the book shelves and in the meantime you can follow their adventures online and add your view to the over 20 million views of how they met.