Is This The Best Travel Blog 2013?

Inspiring Adventures has been recognised and shortlisted as one of the Best Travel Blogs in the UK, 2013.  Thank you to those that nominated me.

The Web Awards, run by TravelMole.com, are now in their 10th year, and recognise travel and tourism companies for their efforts online.  The award ceremony was on September 12th, at the new Doubletree by Hilton, London Hyde Park, and very nice it was there too.

And the winner was…

And the winner is...

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7 ways to be a terrible volunteer abroad

You’re going to volunteer abroad, and you want to make sure you do a terrible job. Here’s how.

1. Be a Super Hero

In another country, you are a Super Hero.  Your simple deeds will fix the world, probably in two weeks or less.  Make sure everyone knows that you, and you alone can save them in their hour of need. You are not there to be of service,  you are there to be the saviour, and of course should be treated as such.  Expect local people to worship you and bring you offerings.

2. Don’t accept the unknown

Make sure that you are not open to any kind of new experience.  Demand that everything be exactly the way it is back home, otherwise you will leave.  Do not be flexible and adaptable, and definitely don’t try anything new.

3. Be the smartest person in town

You know best, and make sure every else knows it.  You know how to do everything better, so make sure you tell everybody that what they are doing is wrong. Don’t learn why they are doing things the way they are, just tell them what they should do.  You are foreign, so of course you must know better than the local community, right?

4. Go with the most expensive and famous volunteer operator Continue reading

What NOT to take on an Adventure – Top 10 Mistakes

My Top 10 Travel Kit Mistakes

  1. Electric toothbrush – I love my ultrasonic toothbrush. My dentist loves my ultrasonic toothbrush. But the charger didn’t fit in my new “global” adaptor, and so I was stuck carrying a dead toothbrush for 5 weeks. Take a small normal toothbrush.
  2. Silk sleep sack – A useful piece of kit for couchsurfing or backpacking, but if you are planning to AirBnB, leave it behind.
  3. Towel – Only take the micro size. Like the sleep sack, most places have towels, but i did use the micro towel once or twice.
  4. Travel money – If you don’t take much cash with you, which can be safer, be prepared to be stung at the cash machines. Even my sensible Post Office travel card was charging me on transactions and didn’t work so well. You need a good travel money card.
  5. Shoes – I love Vivo Barefoot shoes. They’re basically the only shoes I wear at home. But my summer slip-ons were never designed to be sturdy travel shoes, and they  lasted two weeks of travel. I’d like to try their cross trainer model next time. Continue reading

Eco Bonito – Ecotourism entrepreneurs

Bonito – it’s not just about the water.

There is at least one attraction that involves none of the wet stuff.

Ecotourism entrepreneur, Senor Modesto Sampaio used to be a farmer. In 1986 he acquired an unusual piece of land.  Part of the land included a giant sink hole, a natural sandstone crater with it’s own unique ecosystem. The largest sink hole in South America, and second largest in the world.  Of course, engineers advised him to cover or fill it somehow, so that he could use all the land for farming, but Modesto, now in his 70s, realised its unique potential.

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What is Agro EcoTourism? Finding out in San Francisco

San Francisco. The home of Agro EcoTourism?

Not the San Francisco with the Goldengate Bridge or all those tech start-ups. This is the San Fransico Lodge in the Pantanal region.

What does Agro EcoTourism mean?  I asked owner Robert Coelho the same question.

“Agro because we teach people about farming, and Eco because we introduce people to our unique wildlife and nature.

Fighting Crocodiles for Piranha in The Pantanal

Arriving in the Wet Lands

We arrive at Santa Clara Guest House, and are checked in by a friendly Macaw. All around us are giant Hyacinth Macaws. This part of the Pantanal is one of the only regions in Brazil where you can see the this large Macaw species in the wild.

It’s not just the Hyacinth Macaw around here. Hundreds of birds and dozens of species fly all around the farm grounds.  Another macaw welcomes us at the check-in desk.  Hawks patrol the garden.  Parakeets fly by in pairs. A toucan in the distance. But it wasn’t the birds that really surprised me.

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A Taste of the Amazon

Having missed the opportunity for a trip deep into the Amazon, I opted for the best I could find around Belem.  A one day boat and jungle walk, courtesy of Amazon Star Tour Operators.

Our jovial guide for the day was Edilson.  He explained that we were sailing passed Hiberinos, or river people.  Not indigenous tribes, but groups of creols (Brazilans born of african descent) that have settled on the river banks.  Many subsistence farmers and fishermen, but some work with the tourists.

We stop on one island, and Edlison introduces us to the variety of life in the jungle.  He names more varieties of fruit than I can write down or remember.  We try freshly gathered brazil nuts, and some of us eat cacao fruit.

We see the trees of the amazon, and the famous Acai tree.

One local, now in his 80s, simultaneously demonstrates his fitness regime and what it takes to get the acai.  He climbs 5 metres up the tree, and then jumps over to the next one to collect a few more berries.

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The Alt Travel Party

Welcome Alternative Travellers!

There are better ways to travel.

http://alttravelparty-insp.eventbrite.co.uk

Join the Alt Travel Collective for The Alt Travel Party to enjoy the company of people who love adventurous, inspiring, fun, sustainable, and/or socially beneficial ways of travelling around our amazing planet.

Follow #AltTravel on Twitter

Party Location – Hub Kings Cross

HubKX is where change goes to work. A community for social entrepreneurs, and a cool co-working environment and space. It has a great bar fully stocked with ethical snacks, organic beers, ales, wines and soft drinks. Please register above as places are limited.

Party Theme – Flip Flops.

Bring a flip flop related item. Wear a flip flop. Hold a Sandal. Show your thong. Use your imagination!

7pm Rock up

10pm Rock out

Afterparty location TBC

Party Hosts

Felipe Zalamea – Sumak Travel

Sumak Travel or “good, sustainable travel”, is a social enterprise that sells eco-tourism trips to Latin America. Its mission is to contribute to the empowerment of local communities by running an ethical business that is also rewarding for responsible tourists. Sumak Travel works directly with community-based tour operators in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Colombia. Profits are invested into community-led, productive projects in Latin America (see more info in the website).

Ed Hewitt – Dromomaniacs

A ‘Dromomaniac’ is defined as someone with ‘an insatiable urge to travel’. Dromomaniacs is a new, independent society for those with that ‘insatiable urge’ to share, inspire and meet other like minded people with incredible experiences around the globe.

Richard Brownsdon – Inspiring Adventures

Inspiring Adventures is a social enterprise that co-creates and runs trips and events that inspire and stimulate. They introduce and connect participants with each other, and with social entrepreneurs and innovators doing inspiring things in amazing locations in London and Internationally.

And a very special mention to our very own Happiness Architect – Taichi Fujimoto

See the world. Meet the people.

I’d like to thank Thom Reinhard, who heard about Inspiring Adventures, and pointed this quote in my direction.  It’s from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

Smith describes that we can intellectually understand the opportunities and crises happening around the world, but it’s by making it real and in front of us that we really start to know what it means to us.

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Over to Smith:

Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity.

He would, I imagine, first of all, express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment.

He would too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general.

And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquillity, as if no such accident had happened.

The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger to-morrow, he would not sleep to-night; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own.

See the world.  Meet the people.   

Ballet and Boxing in the Favelas: Visiting local communities

Those of you who have seen the award winning Brazilian film City of God, or even the more recent Elite Squad 1 and 2 might be curious about the realities of life in the poorest communities of Brazil’s largest cities.  Often referred to as slums, shanty towns or favelas, these growing communities are playing a large role in megacities around the world.

Of course as shown in the films, life in these communities can be tough and there is violence, but perhaps surprisingly, two thirds of these communities in Brazil have sanitation, and more than 90% have water, electricity and waste collection. 

Favelas_by_f

(Photo by F. Antunes)

On the second day of the Brazil Inspiring Adventure, we plan to visit Brasilandia, a low income community in the north of São Paulo city.  We shall see with our own eyes what life is like, and visit some of the organisations making a difference, and improving their local community.

During the visit we will be able to visit to a community run organic garden, and find out about a conservation project for the forests in the surroundings areas. 

We’ll have the opportunity to buy some hand made recycled products designed by a ladies’ cooperative, visit the poorest areas, see the street art, meet some of the inhabitants, learn folkloric songs and dances and discuss the changes that the community is going through and how they are helping each other to improve their lives.

Professor Graziella, PhD. MBA. from the University of Sao Paulo, has offered to join us for the beginning of this trip into Brasilandia, and tell us about the projects she has encountered through out the years, setting the scene for understanding social enterprise and development in Brazil. Professor Grazilella is a social enterprise expert, and is the Deputy Coordinator of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Management in the Third Sector.

Finally, when we visit Rio, we’ll also visit one of the communities there, called Cantagalo.  You can see a video of Cantagalo on the BBC website here – you might be surprised to see the ballet and boxing classes. The video introduces us to the young entrepreneur who wants to change people’s perception of life in these communities.

As you can see, it may not be what you expect.