Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ethiopia guidebook update take two

After much deliberation, I've decided to move my research dates for the 6th edition of the Bradt Travel Guide to Ethiopia back by a few months. I'll now be criss-crossing my way around this mammoth country throughout the months of September, October and November 2011. I'm still looking for a travel buddy, so give me a shout if you want to join me on what is set to be my most epic wild wandering to date.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tripbase 100 Favourite Travel Writers

I think I need to pinch myself. The very clever team behind the highly acclaimed travel website, Tripbase, have included me on their 100 Favourite Travel Writers list. I come in at No.78, so am a long way off No.1, but I'm very chuffed to be on a list that includes such great travel writing heavy hitters as Abbie Kozolchyk (No.1), Amanda Castleman (No.31), David Atkinson (No.61) and Rolf Potts (No.75).

What I love most about their tribute is the blurb they wrote about me:
Kim is a lover of adventure and this shines through whenever she puts pen to paper in order to narrate her spectacular travels. She is an advocate of solo travel and is equally as engaging when writing about canoeing the Zambezi River as when she is on a road trip through the States, though we get the feeling she is most in her element when exploring the most remote corners of the globe.
For someone who spends numerous hours locked in a study tapping away on a laptop, it's heartening to know that there are people out there who not only appreciate my work, but really get me. Thank you Tripbase!

You can see the full list of their favourite travel writers here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adventures with a guidebook author

Ever wonder what it's like to be a guidebook author? Want to know how to get your start in travel writing? During a brief break in between having just completed the update of Bradt Travel Guides’ Ghana and organizing my next trip to Ethiopia, I briefly sat down with Sherri from to answer the tough questions about my most recent guidebook update on Ghana and what it’s like to be a travel writer. You can see the full interview, Adventures with Kim Wildman, here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Australian Festival of Travel Writing

Great news: I've been invited to be a guest speaker at the Australian Festival of Travel Writing. The festival, which will be held in Melbourne on 29-30-31 October, will reach beyond mere words on the page to incorporate new forms of travel writing such as blogging, radio, film, photography, performance and arts.

This year's program features three themes - Dynamic India, Multicultural French Travellers, and Travel on Two Wheels – with a prominent line-up of speakers including Lonely Planet founder, Tony Wheeler, India's Chetan Bhagat, who was voted one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, and Le Monde journalist-cyclist, Guillaume Prebois, presenting a series of panels and workshops that will challenge the way we think about travel and tourism.

I personally will be sharing the highs and lows of my War Child Cambodia Cycle Challenge for the Travellers Giving Back: Voluntourism and Travelling for Charities panel on Sunday 31 October from 2.30-3.30pm at the Wheeler Centre (behind the State Library). Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ethiopia guidebook update

I've been so excited about the recent release of the new Bradt Travel Guide to Ghana which I updated late last year, I almost forgot to mention that I’ve just signed up to tackle the 6th edition of the Bradt Travel Guide to Ethiopia. For 10 weeks over April, May and June next year I'll be driving, bussing and bush taxiing my way around the entire country covering everything from the busy streets of Addis and the colourful South Omo Valley to Bale Mountains National Park and the thundering Blue Nile Falls – not to mention everything in between.

In all my travels to Africa, I've yet to make it to Ethiopia. Of course as child of the 80s, I grew up with the images of emaciated children and cracked barren earth that were beamed around the world during Bob Geldof's Live Aid concert in 1985. But there is much more to this ancient country than those lasting negative image stereotypes. So I'm really looking forward to debunking the myths and discovering Ethiopia for myself. If anyone wants to join me for my latest wild adventure, drop me a line!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ghana guidebook giveaway

The new Bradt Travel Guide to Ghana which I updated late last year has finally hit the shelves of bookstores around the world. The most comprehensive English language guide to the country, I'm not totally biased in saying it is a must for first time travellers to this bewildering and bewitching West African destination. To celebrate I thought I'd give away a copy.

To win all you need to do is answer this simple question:

Who was the Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations for ten years?

The first person to provide the correct answer in the comments section of this post wins the guide (just make sure you include your email so I can contact you for an address to send the guide to).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vote now for the world's most glamorous toilet

Luxurious loos, classy commodes, ritzy restrooms: which posh public potties get your cheek[s] of approval?

I'm currently compiling an article on the world's most glamorous toilets for MSN UK and am seeking recommendations. While the state of many public toilets will have you running for the restroom exit, there are those that make more than your pants drop. Nominations so far include: the luscious lobby loos at the Tremont Plaza Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland (pictured above) which feature imported marble, stately columns, grand chandeliers and hand carved woodwork; the wondrous washroom at the Langham Club in The Langham in Hong Kong where the door is padded in luxurious silver silk; the glitzy golden dunnies at Dolce & Gabbana's aptly named Gold Restaurant in Milan, and the throne-like toilets at Jack's Camp in Botswana.

If know of a fancy facility that'll flush away the competition (yes, more terrible toilet humour), then get your vote in now.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cambodia Cycle Challenge update

Lance Armstrong I'm not, but as I raced to the finish line of the Cambodia Cycle Challenge – legs pumping, brow dripping – I could have been forgiven for thinking I was competing in the Tour de France. While there were no steep hills climbs, nasty roadside pile-ups nor crowds to cheer us on, as our eight-person all women cycling team rode through the entrance gate of Banteay Srey temple (fittingly known as the "citadel of the women") some 38km outside Siem Reap we felt just as exuberant as if we'd taken out first line honours.

The 10 day, 300km journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to raise money for War Child Australia, certainly lived up to its challenge title. Cycling for hours on end in 40 degree plus heat was tough and there were plenty of times when I thought that I could not possibly go on (especially on the third day after I developed a nasty bout of travel belly that made cycling even more of a challenge). But somehow managing to find the inner strength to overcome such difficulties made the ride so much more special and seeing the smiling faces on the children at the orphanages and knowing that we had made a difference made it all worthwhile.

Together as a team we raised $25,000 for War Child Australia. For my part, thanks to the generous donations of my friends, family and many sponsors, in particular the Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club, Downlands College, Mantra on Salt Beach and The Byron at Byron(see here for a full list), I personally raised just over $3,500.

So while I may not have won the yellow jersey (I wisely decided to wear my own), I achieved more than I could ever have imagined through this experience. For that I offer you all a very heartfelt thank you.

Picture: Me at the gate of Angkor Thom

Friday, June 25, 2010

New cycle challenge: Ride for the Rainforest

My dear friends, Krista Bernard and Dan Coward, who kindly trained with me in the build-up for my Cambodia War Child cycling adventure, are organising a new cycling challenge and are looking for participants. The 12 day Ride for the Rainforest Cycle Challenge running from 22 February to 5 March 2011 will traverse the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and raise money for Rainforest Rescue.

All you need to take part is a great sense of adventure...and a little cycling training of course. But if you're up for the challenge, you couldn't want for two better guides.

Krista has an indomitable cycling history. In Australia, she traversed the Nullarbor and Central Deserts on dirt tracks, has ridden down the east coast, and cycled around Tasmania. Pedalling 15,000km across 19 countries – from Indonesia to Egypt – won her the prestigious Young Adventurer of the Year Award in 2000 by the Australian Geographic Society.

Krista recently returned from an 8,811 kilometre expedition from London to the Himalayas with her partner Dan. It was inspired not only by Krista's first world cycle but by their mutual love for sustainable travel. At the same time, Krista and Dan raised much needed funds for Rainforest Rescue.

On Thursday 1 July, Krista and Dan will be giving a slide presentation of their cycle adventure from London to the Himalayas at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall at 6.30pm. See the photos and hear the stories – which may inspire you to take up the challenge to join them to Ride for the Rainforest in Sri Lanka next year. All proceeds from the evening go to Rainforest Rescue.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Can you ever be too old for backpacking?

Backpacking around the globe is a great adventure, especially when you are young and don't have any strings to tie you down. But with so many people putting off having families and travelling later in life, should there be an age limit on backpacking?

I was 27 years old when I set out on my first adventure-come-backpacking holiday – a month-long overland trip taking in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. But it wasn't until a few years later, after I'd turned 30 and had landed a job with Lonely Planet, when I finally felt secure enough in myself to take off on my first real extended solo backpacking adventure - this time bussing and training my way around the lesser known parts of Eastern Europe. So as a bit of a late backpacking bloomer, I've usually always been the oldest person in the dorm.

Yet some 10 years on as I unpack my bags from my latest adventure in Cambodia I'm wondering if, at the ripe old age of 41 years, I'm starting to get a little too old for this? I've already traded in my traditional rucksack for a far more practical and convenient – and might I add less backbreaking – trolley backpack, so perhaps it's time I hang up my hiking boots and sign-up for a seniors' only bus tour of Europe?

For me, age always has been, and hopefully will always be, a number. But at the same time, as the years have marched on I've noticed the gap between myself and younger travellers at hostels is indeed widening – while they revel in all-night drinking parties and only crawl into their bunks just before dawn, I'd much rather find a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where I can enjoy a local meal along with a glass of wine (or two) and be in bed well before midnight. I also appreciate a few more luxuries, such as hygienic bathrooms and clean bed sheets, than I did when I was younger. But does this mean I should give hostels a wide berth?

Hostels of course offer a great budget alternative form of accommodation and they are excellent places to meet like-minded travellers. Yet while they were once the domain of drifters and students, today's hostels cater to the young and the young at heart with many dropping the "youth" tag and opening their doors to families and mature-age travellers. Granted I'd find screaming children as annoying as drunken teenagers and late night snorers, but no matter whether my dorm mates belong to Gen Y, Gen X or the Baby Boomers as long as they share my independent travelling spirit then, as far as I'm concerned, they can only make my hostelling experience richer.

Perhaps as Alison Brick once noted for Vagabonding in the end it's all just a matter of definition. That is, if to you the word backpacker means the party-all-night, sleep-all-day gap year student whose round-world trip drifts by in a drunken blur, then by all accounts my backpacking years are well behind me. But if you believe backpackers are in fact independent travellers who don't go in much for set itineraries, who avoid package tours and who relish the opportunity to get off the well-beaten tourist trail, then apparently I'll never be too old to be a backpacker.

Naturally I subscribe to the latter definition. So while I may well be the oldest person at the hostel, as long as I continue to enjoy the challenges and complexities of independent travel, I can’t see myself giving up backpacking anytime soon.

What do you think? Can you ever be too old for backpacking? I'l love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cambodia Challenge: Off and racing

Well, we are now halfway through the Cambodia Cycle Challenge for War Child Australia. If there is any one word that truly sums up the experience so far it is: 'uplifting'. Cycling in 40 plus degree heat has been tough and there have been times when I thought that I could not go on (especially on the third day when I developed a nasty bout of travel belly that made cycling even more of a challenge), but being able to overcome such difficulties has made the ride so much more special and seeing the smiling faces on the children at the orphanages and knowing that we are making a difference has made it all worthwhile.

Here are just a few photographs so far from the trip – one of our all-girl cycling team (above), a few of the children from the orphanage (below) and a photograph of our team with the students we taught English to at the middle school (bottom). More photos to follow soon. Thank you all so much for your support!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cambodia: The countdown is on

This is it. I now have less than two weeks until I take off for Cambodia. Thanks to everyone’s kind generosity, I am only $695 from reaching my $6,900 fundraising target for my War Child Cambodia Cycle Challenge.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

I just need a little more help to make it across the line. Fortunately, I still have some great prizes to auction off. They are:

1. $2000 worth of IT services offered by MageData, a Northern Rivers-based IT company run by Noven Purnell-Webb. This equates to two full days of business IT work or a basic CMS driven website with scope for one or two add-ons."MageData the Business IT Wizards- we make technology work like Magic".

2. One year membership to YHA plus vouchers for 10 night's multi-share accommodation valid at any of the more than 100 YHA Australia hostels around Australia valued at $300.

I'll award the prizes to the person who makes me the best offer on each by next Monday 3, May. Simply post a comment below or contact me via email on kim[at] with your offer.

Alternatively you can make a tax-deductable donation to my Everyday Hero website

Please remember this is for charity, so help me support a great cause.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

People & Places photo comp: And the winner is...

I knew I lived in a very talented, well-travelled and generous community, but even I was blown away by the sheer number and quality of entries I received in the People & Places travel photography competition I organised to help raise money for my War Child Cambodia Cycle Challenge.

With more than 195 fantastic photographs received from the residents of the Byron Bay/Northern Rivers region of NSW, the three judges (Jeff Dawson from the Byron Bay Echo, local Bangalow-based photographer Lisa Sharpe and head of the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce, Michael Malloy) were certainly faced with a hard decision. In fact, there were so many worthy entrants, the winning photograph had to be decided by a secret ballot.

In the end the overall winner was Darren Pearson of Bangalow for his picture of Samburu women in traditional ceremonial garb taken in Northern Kenya (it's the picture in the top right-hand corner of the photograph above - and, yes, that's me), with second place going to Nharyan Feldman of Coorabell for his photograph titled 'In the moment' taken in Nepal.

Other category winners were: secondary high school students Isabella West (first place) and Kimberley Fuller (second place) of Nimbin and primary school students Colby Grant (first place) and Bingham Thurgate (second place) of Bangalow.

For my part, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the competition and attended the exhibition for supporting such a worthy cause and making the night a huge success. In particular I'd like to thank Michael Malloy of the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce for all his help organising the event and Darren Pearson for donating his $200 prize back to the charity. Your generosity helped raise $3100.

Having already raised $1000 from donations and a further $900 from a smaller exhibition in Toowoomba, I am now only $1900 from reaching my goal of $6,900. If you are able to support me and help push me over the mark, I’d greatly appreciate it. Tax-deductable donations can be made safely over the internet through my page on the Everyday Hero website.

Picture: Courtesy of Christobel Munson.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wild Wednesday: Walking on sunshine

I've been so busy with my fundraising efforts for my War Child Cambodia Cycle Challenge that sadly my poor blog has been neglected of late. To help kick things back into gear, I thought I'd highlight one of my favourite travel photographs of the sun setting over Lake Victoria which I took in Tanzania in 2008 while helping Philip Briggs update the Bradt Travel Guide to the country. The following short piece I wrote about the picture below was recently published in the Escape section of the Brisbane Sunday Mail:

"African sunsets are made for gin and tonics. It's a cliche I know, but I enjoy the ritual of sipping the beautifully crisp, clear drink while watching the sunset over the veld. From my box seat sitting on a small strip of sand wrapped around the south-eastern edge of Lake Victoria, I watch with glass in hand, mesmerised as deep oranges, rich reds and powerful pinks dance across the horizon in a silent symphony of colour. Setting my drink down on the sand, I pick up my camera and focus the lens on the play of light as the sun slowly sinks into the lake's far horizon. To my surprise just as I click the shutter a Massai warrior silently walks across the beach and into my viewfinder. Only in Africa I muse. Raising my gin and tonic, I salute the African sunset. Mzuri sana!"

Monday, February 8, 2010

New travel photography contest launched

Calling all shutterbugs. A new travel photography contest has been launched in the Northern Rivers region. Focusing on people and places the competition is being held as part of my efforts to raise money for the War Child Cambodia Cycle Challenge.

The theme, as stated, is People & Places. You can interpret this theme anyway you like. You need not have people in your photograph, but if you do they need to speak to the location and add depth to the image.

The competition is open to all residents in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales with three categories available for entries: Primary (up to 11 years), Secondary (12-17 years), and Open (18 years and over).

Entry cost is $5 per individual entry. You may enter as many times as you like, but each entry incurs the fee and must be made separately.

Photographs must be submitted in print form. Each photograph should be mounted on black mount board and must not exceed 30cm x 40cm in size (including mount board). No entries will be returned, so make sure you keep a copy of your photographs.

Prizes currently up for grabs include $350 worth of cash prizes offered by the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce, Lonely Planet guidebooks and year subscriptions to some of Australia's best travel magazines including Australian Traveller, Get Lost! and Vacations & Travel. More prizes to be announced soon.

Entries clearly marked with your Name, Age, Address and Telephone Number, should be sent to the attention of Kim Wildman, P.O. Box 611, Bangalow NSW 2479 (or leave at the Bangalow Post Office). Entries can also be dropped off at the A&I Hall between 2pm to 5pm on Wednesday 24 March.

The contest will then culminate in a fundraising exhibition/auction at the A&I Hall in Bangalow on Thursday 25 March where the winners will be announced. Just some of the fantastic auction items to be bid on include: $2000 worth of IT services offered by Magedata, two nights' accommodation at Mantra on Salt Beach at Kingscliff, a weekend for two at Urban Hotel Group in Spring Hill Brisbane and complimentary walking tour of Melbourne for four adults with Melbourne by Foot and much, much more. You can see the full list here.

You don't have to be a pro nor do you need to have travelled the world to enter this contest. You just have to have a keen eye and a great travelling spirit. So get snapping!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cambodia Cycle Challenge: Sponsor roll call

It never fails to surprise me just how generous people can be. I've not long started fundraising for my War Child Cambodia Cycle Challenge and I’ve already been flooded with bighearted donations of money, gifts and prizes from friends, family, businesses (big and small) and people I don't even know!

As part of my fundraising efforts I will be holding two major fundraising events: a travel photography competition to be held where I live on the Far North Coast of New South Wales which will culminate in an exhibition and silent auction at the A&I Hall in Bangalow; and, a Charity Movie Night to be held in my hometown Toowoomba. Details for both events will be announced shortly. In the meantime, I thought I'd start a sponsor roll call to highlight the people and businesses that have been willing to dig deep and make my challenge a reality. They are:

Prize donors:
Australian Traveller have kicked in with one year's subscription to the magazine.

Bangalow Chamber of Commerce has kindly donated $350 worth of cash prizes.

Get Lost! have also offered a one year subscription to their magazine.

Lonely Planet has kindly offered a few guidebooks as runner up prizes.

Vacations & Travel have donated two one year subscriptions to their quarterly magazine.

Auction/lucky door prize donators:
Rosemarie Toynbee, a consultant for Arbonne International, has offered $133 of Arbonne Body Care products.

Bangalow Chamber of Commerce has donated two 3-day passes to the Bangalow Music Festival and 6 tickets to Thursday night concerts in Bangalow.

Eight Hotels Australia has pitched in with 1 night's accommodation at one of their botique hotels located in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, valued at $420 depending on the hotel.

Kym Kranen from H.I.P.S (M: 0424 223 754), has offered 5 personal training vouchers. Each voucher includes: 1 x 1/2hr consultation, 2 x 1/2hr one-on-one personal training sessions and 1 x 1hr success coaching session.

Magedata in the Northern Rivers region of NSW has kicked in with $2000 worth of IT services. This equates to two full days of business IT work or a basic CMS driven website with scope for one or two add-ons (shopping cart, blog etc).

Melbourne by Foot has offered a complimentary walking tour of Melbourne for four adults valued at $100. Departing from Federation Square, Melbourne By Foot is the esstenital walking tour of Australia's cultural capital.

Mantra Group have pitched in with two night's accommodation at Mantra on Salt Beach in a one bedroom ocean suite including breakfast daily.

Urban Hotel Group have offered a weekend for two at Urban Spring Hill Hotel in Brisbane. The kind offer was made possible by Sweaty Betty PR.

YHA Australia have donated one year membership to YHA plus vouchers for 10 night's multi-share accommodation valid at any of the more than 100 YHA hostels around Australia.

Raffle/lucky door prize donators:
Discount Drug Stores Highfields have offered a $30 foot & bath pamper pack.

Harvey Norman Toowoomba have pitched in with a $300 Jamie Oliver saucepan set and a $50 Omega digital kitchen scale.

Miscellaneous thank yous
I also owe a very big heart-felt thank you to the following people:

My sister Kerri Lange and her husband Craig for generously donating $100 to cause as well as supplying me with some great new cycling threads for the trip (also to Craig for training with me). To Daini and Stephen Ware for loaning me a bike to train on and to my sister-in-law Nadine Wildman for organising the prizes for the Toowoomba movie night.

And, well, to all my family and friends in general for supporting me in yet another wild adventure!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wild Wednesday: Cambodia Challenge 2010

The New Year has barely begun and I already think I have come up with my wildest plan for the year yet. While doing some research on the web the other weekend I stumbled across a website seeking participants for a charity cycling tour of Cambodia to help raise funds for War Child Australia. Oddly enough, just the night before having a glass of wine with a friend, my friend turned to me and asked me where I would go and what would I choose to do for a holiday if it didn't involve work? I replied that I really wanted to do a cycling tour of either Vietnam or Cambodia, but timing/money made it an impossible dream for now.... What do they say? Be careful what you wish for!

As many of you may be aware, I was meant to travel to Cambodia in December 2007, but was sadly stood up by my travelling partner (an English doctor whom I'd met in Libya who'd asked me to meet him in Cambodia for our first 'date') three weeks before we were due to depart. Ever since that failed 'date', I'd been searching for a way that I could still do the trip. At the same time, if I did indeed get another opportunity to travel Cambodia, I wanted to go under completely different circumstances that weren't quite as self-serving. So here flashing on the screen before my eyes, War Child Australia was presenting me with the perfect answer, opportunity and challenge all in one. And I, of course, couldn't resist.

From 11-22 May this year I'll be taking part in the War Child Cambodia Challenge which is being organised by Inspired Travel, to help the charity provide education and support to Cambodian children who have been affected by war. It's a very long way from the green hinterland hills of Byron Bay and I will need to get very fit to cope with cycling up to 6-8 hours a day. However, having witnessed so much poverty and hardship in many of the countries I have visited while working as a travel writer, I see this challenge as an opportunity to not only do something worthwhile for an organisation for which I have great respect, but to also contribute to a local community in a country through which I am travelling in a positive way.

Together as a team we are hoping to raise over $50,000 from this event. I personally need to raise at least $6900 (half to go as a donation to the charity and half to cover my expenses). So I hope you will all support me in this challenge, even if it is just to wish me luck. Though obviously I need more than just best wishes (does anyone I have a bike I can borrow to train on??)! In the coming weeks I will post details about fund raising events I will be holding. In the meantime, if any of you have any great ideas for events or are able to support me with a tax-deductible donation or raffle/auction prize, please let me know – it would be very much appreciated and will bring me much closer to reaching my goal.

Picture: Monks walking at Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat), a temple at Angkor, Cambodia. Obtained from

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tales from the road: An introduction to travel writing

Aspiring travel writers take heed. I'm running a new introductory course, Tales from the Road: An Introduction to Travel Writing, in early February. To be held in Mullumbimby on the Far North Coast of New South Wales, the course takes a practical approach to travel writing, giving an overview of the market from writing for newspapers, magazines and on-line, to authoring guidebooks. Students will learn how to write a great article, how to dress up articles with photographs and how to approach an editor with the perfect pitch.

Dates: 13 & 20 February
Time: 9am – 12.30pm
Cost: $63 Full Fee; $57 Concession

If you happen to be in the Byron Bay area around this time, I would love for you to come along!

Picture: Me assumning the pose in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Where do travel writers pay to stay?

Have you ever wondered where travel writers choose to stay when they're footing the hotel bill? Well, this was the question recently pondered by David Wickers and Mark Hodson at 101 Holidays. In a Twitter first, they asked a number of well-known, tweeting travel journalists and editors, including myself, to each recommend their favourite hotel, B&B or guest house. The rules were simple: the recommended place could be anywhere in the world, but it had to cost less than £150 ($250) a night for two people, and, of course, had to be described in no more than 140 characters.

My recommendation? "Tunza Lodge in Mwanza, Tanzania: Between the beach, the bar & the sunsets over Lake Victoria, this is one lusciously laidback lodge." Doubles cost $US45 - 60.

You can read the full list here

Picture? One of the many mesmerising sunsets over Lake Victoria as viewed from Tunza Lodge, Tanzania.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More wicked websites for wild, wandering women

Thank you so much for the positive feedback for my last blog post, Wicked websites for wild, wandering women. In less than an hour after uploading the post I had more than 150 hits not to mention dozens of emails from women all around globe. It seems we sisters are very keen to do it for ourselves!

Amid all the thank yous and twitter retweets, I was also passed on two more recommendations for honours as a wicked website for wild, wandering women. They are: Recommended by Evelyn Hannon, editor of Journey Woman, this is a free international directory of women who are willing to mentor other women travelling to their part of the world. As Evelyn writes: "It's my personal gift to women, everywhere and it has connected 1000's of women to date."

WAVE Journey An acronym for Women's Adventures, Vacations & Experiences, WJ is an online resource for women travellers around the world co-founded by Vivienne Chapleo and Jill Hoelting of Canada and United States. The travelling duo also run a travel blog, WAVE Journey Women where they'd highlight places they rather be.

If you know of any other worthy wicked websites for wild, wandering women, please let me know and I'll add them to my list.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wicked websites for wild, wandering women

It's Wild Wednesday and I can't think of any better way to celebrate than to nominate my favourite websites for wild, wandering women. All started, owned and operated by women, the following eight inspirational sites are the ones I seek out when planning my travels:

Go Galavanting Founded by Katy Quissell and Kim Mance, this online travel magazine and community is for gutsy women who believe there is more to travel than staying in expensive five star resorts and finding the world's perfect facial. Think: experiencing new cultures and going on life changing adventures, but all done with style of course!

Journey Woman Award-winning writer, editor and travelling grandma, Evelyn Hannon, has proved that age and gender are not barriers to travel, creating one of the most respected websites designed especially for women along the way.

Thelma & Louise Club Started by gal pals Christine Davies and Grace Frankel, this exclusive female-only network allows members to meet like-minded women and find travel buddies for their next adventure.

UGoGurl Travel writer and self-confessed media maven, Elaine Lee, offers great advice for African American travellers as well as extensive reports and articles.

Wanderlust & Lipstick Founded by Beth Whitlam – a 22 year wild wandering veteran whose career highlights include having a grenade pulled on her in Cambodia – this is a website for women who are passionate about travelling offering tips and hints from experienced Wanderlusters who, like Beth, have seen it all.

Women on the Road Created by Leyla Giray, Women on the Road is a fantastic website aimed at women who love to travel. Along with practical information on planning, safety and money, the website features interviews with inspirational women travellers who share their experiences and philosophies on travel.

Women Travel Tips Started by National Geographic author and editor Marybeth Bond, this website is an excellent resource for women travellers with practical tips and hints for business, adventure, family and solo travel.

Women Travel the World This website is dedicated to connecting women travellers through female-friendly tour and accommodation listings. There’s also a range of articles covering topics from adventure tourism to food and wine shopping.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

New Frontiers: Travel writing in the digital age

Travel writing has long provided readers with a window to the world allowing us to see and experience faraway places without leaving the confines of our homes. Thanks to the world wide web, the field of travel writing has undergone a swift, head-spinning transformation in recent years. Starting February this year, I will be presenting a new six-week course for the Northern Rivers Writers Centre which will examine the art of travel writing within the context of the digital age. From contemporary e-guides, blogs and online forums to traditional newspapers, magazines and guidebooks, this course will show you how to build a career as a travel writer in the digital age. Participants need not be published but an introductory course [in any genre] will be assumed. So pull on your boots and get ready to walk a mile with me; if you plan to write travel it will be worth it!

When: Fridays, 12, 19 & 26 February; 5, 12, 19 March, 10am - 12.30pm
Where: Byron Bay
Cost: $255 (currently Members Only)

To find out more, contact the Northern Rivers Writers Centre.

Image sourced from

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wild Wednesday: Win a travel guide to Tanzania

In celebration of my wish for a wild, wild New Year for everyone this year I've decided to start a new regular segment for my blog titled Wild Wednesday. If any of you have seen my website, you'd know I have an affinity for the word 'wild'. It is more than part of my name. Wild is also symbolic of who I am. It describes my life and my experiences and it informs how I work and how I write. So in embracing my wild side, I've decided that each Wednesday I'll highlight something I consider wild whether it be a wild experience or wild photograph from my travels, a wild person or a wild place or even a wild posting from another blogger. To kick Wild Wednesday off, I'm giving away a copy of the new Bradt Travel Guide to Tanzania which I helped Philip Briggs update last year. All you need to do is answer this simple question:

What is the name of the wonderfully wild national game park stretching from northern Tanzania into southern Kenya which is famous for the annual migration of millions wildebeest and zebras?

The first person to provide the correct answer in the comments section of this post wins the guide (just make sure you include your email so I can contact you for an address to send the guide to).

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Is it goodbye to guidebooks, getting lost and grotty youth hostels?

As the decade draws to a close, I asked whether the Internet and mobile phones are robbing travellers of adventure for a new article for MSN Travel.

Thanks to a new generation of sophisticated technologies, some of travel's greatest traditions are under threat. When was the last time you kept a hand-written journal on your travels, received a dog-eared postcard with someone's excited scrawl on the back or arranged your holiday snaps neatly in a photo album? Before they disappear from the scene forever, here are a few travelling traditions that I'll sadly miss:

1. The photo album
The digital revolution has certainly made holiday photography much cheaper and simpler, but it's also leading to the decline of one of travel's greatest traditions - the photo album. With sites such as Flickr and Picasa fast becoming the most popular way of sharing our happy snaps, fewer and fewer people take the time to print their holiday photographs and transfer them into albums. Yet it's still hard to think of a better way to reminisce about your travels than flipping through the pages of a time-worn photo album.

2. The postcard
They were once as much as part of the holiday experience as sunbathing or tasting the local cuisine. But thanks to the mobile phone, email, Facebook and Twitter, the humble postcard is facing extinction. Research quoted in Coast magazine shows that postcard mail has dropped by 75% in the past decade alone. While they are not instantaneous, like a text message - there's no guarantee they'll even arrive home before you do - nothing says "wish you were here" quite like the postcard.

3. The unplanned road trip
Remember when half the point of a road trip was to get lost down some interesting byway? Thanks to GPS, however directionless meandering down hidden roads has lost much of the thrill it once had. If it looks as though you've stumbled into a dangerous Hicksville somewhere or conveniently ended up in a city's most crime-ridden neighbourhood, you need merely fiddle with your GPS and that familiar tinned voice will tell you, more or less reliably, how to get out. GPS might be invaluable when you're truly lost, but it also takes the adventure out of travel and shortchanges you of stories to tell when you get home.

4. The total disconnect
Before mobile phones and Skype, many travellers were faced with making an expensive long distance trunk call from a roadside phone booth if they wanted to speak to friends and families back home. These days, staying in touch has never been cheaper and easier. On the plus side, travel has become safer: you face less chance of getting stranded somewhere if you can get out your mobile and call for help. On the downside, one of the greatest lures of travel has always been how out of touch you can be. But between instant messaging and texting home, to updating Facebook and tweeting, many of today's travellers don't know how to untie the apron strings and take in the new environment they find themselves in.

5. The travel journal
With more 200 million travel-related blogs out there, the once personal travel journal appears to be moving overwhelmingly online. Internet diaries are a great way to keep your friends and family up-to-date with how your holiday is going. They can track your movements and see photographs and videos of where you have been. Sophisticated as e-journals - to coin a term - might be, they are pretty clinical compared with a hand-written diary, whose very scuffs, stains and faint smells bear witness to where you've been. Hand-written journals are also less self-conscious and more personal than any travel blog will ever be. Moreover, they probably encourage more intrepid travel: as long as you remember your trusty pen, you can update your journal anywhere. No need to hunt down an internet cafe or restrict yourself to places where such technology can be found.

6. The guidebook
Long before the internet and web-connected phones, the travel guidebook was the way we navigated our way around the world. If you wanted to know when the train to Bucharest departed or where to find a bed in Berlin at 2am - you'd reach for your Lonely Planet. With up-to-date information now just a click away, however, the once-beloved traveller's bible is slowly waning in popularity. In the past year the guidebook giant Lonely Planet reported a sharp drop in sales, from £142m in 2008 to £128m in 2009. While it and other guidebook companies are now offering sections of their guides as PDFs and iPhone applications, the tactile heft of the guidebook - its very bulk suggesting endless exciting possibilities - is decidedly lacking. Besides, you can't swat a fly or prop up a table leg with a mobile phone or netbook!

7. The foreign language phrasebook
You've just arrived in Rio and jumped into a taxi but you don't speak a word of Portuguese and your driver doesn't speak English. No need to flip through a phrasebook these days and fumble with impossible pronunciations: simply whip out your portable electronic translator and let it do the work for you. Many of these pocket-size translators, available in hundreds of languages, provide both verbal and written translation. And no doubt they're very handy - but they might encourage you to become even more linguistically lazy. If you really want to learn the language, you have to immerse yourself in the culture.

8. The unencumbered backpacker
Once upon a time, backpacking was about exploring the world with as few possessions as possible. But today's techno-savvy generation of independent travellers, with their trolley bags, laptops, web-phones and MP3 players, are more encumbered than ever. According to AA Travel Insurance, all the backpackers trotting the globe at any one time are lugging around flashy gadgets worth more than £1 billion. Weighed down with all those gizmos, think how much time you'll spend worrying about losing them.

9. The old school hostel
Keeping pace with the new, web-connected traveller, the backpacker hostel has undergone an extreme makeover of its own. Sporting espresso cafes, tour desks and free Wi-Fi, many of today's hostels resemble bland international airport lounges. Don't be surprised to find your fellow travellers are too busy tapping away on their laptops to play a round of pool. While it's certainly good riddance to bedbugs, the old school hostels with their laidback attitude and great social vibe had much more personality.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Here's to a wild, wild New Year!

I finally hit the send button for the last chapter of my Ghana travel guide update right on New Year's Eve, so I certainly had much to celebrate this year (or is that last year now?). Anyway, while I still have several months of edits to go through before the new Ghana guide is released, I've already launched into the New Year with renewed determination and focus to make this my wildest travel and writing year yet. I can't say too much, but I do have a number of exciting new projects on the horizon for the year ahead including travel writing classes and retreats for Byron Bay Regional Community College and the Northern Rivers Writers' Centre (more information to follow shortly). No matter where you are, I wish you all the very best for 2010!