Walking and Trekking place to place has long been a pastime for many Europeans. It is embedded in their culture. Germans and Brits especially enjoy getting out the walking stick(s) and ambling in nature with friends and family. Multi-day long distance trips are now popular with active people in many countries. Today you can choose a wide range of comfort – from self-serve huts to one room guest houses, to luxury Inns. The most popular and established Inn to inn walks are in Europe, but some are sprouting up in the Americas. There are now walks in Vermont and walks in California.
While I was working as a naturalist in the Marin Headlands (the wild protected land just north of the golden gate bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area, California), my father and his new wife started to fall in love over their walking vacations. Their honeymoon was a 2 week Coast to Coast walk in England. The following year, they headed to Ireland for the 7 day Kerry Way combined with 7 day Dingle Peninsula walk. Then they trekked for 14 days on and near Mount Blanc in France, Switzerland and Italy. Fully enamored, they decided to explore Scotland’s Great Glen Way and West Highland Way. This followed by England’s Southwest Coast Walk, Offa’s Dyke in Wales and Cotswold Way. For their next trek, I’d like them to pilot our next new offering – 12-14 days walking the coast from Monterey to › Continue reading
The factory is up and running, albeit very inefficiently laments a native Keralan turned fortune 500 CEO turned self-help writer (who happened to be touring around with us, viewing the facilities). He ran Phillips, the appliance/TV company and quit after working to outsource production of Phillips products – and seeing the negative effects his work was having locally and globally. He explained to me the Indian mindset that he came from: “Indians are not thinking of the future -besides marriage and home construction. The mindset in village is: let’s pay off today, lets enjoy today, then we will worry about tomorrow.” He offered his consultant services to URAVU on his visit home next year, to help increase productivity in the factory.
Uravu sells bamboo crafts within India and demand is high for the quality handmade products. This is only one aspect of the Bamboo Village. The next phase is a large guesthouse (Completion Goal: Dec 2013)- being built with – you guessed it – bamboo. This will house tourists – primarily groups and families, however dorms may be available for backpackers. Currently there is a home stay program that Romarie and I enjoyed. We stayed comfortably in Mary’s families house, experiencing the day to day – even the early morning noises from the chickens (one of which we ate for dinner), and even the family scuffles. Half of the cost went to Mary (money is given to the woman of the household, who runs the homestay), and half is reinvested into the community through › Continue reading
The mission at Bamboo Village is to preserve a way of life (agriculture-based) in the face of a changing world where local village economies are subject to global economic changes. Much more than that – it is to create something for this area to live sustainably and healthily and to prevent brain drain; to keep young people there, rather than running off to the city to work as a tech customer service representative. URAVU meaning “Spring” or “source of life”, was started in 1996 by a group of Indians who had met in college and were politically active who wanted to help make a change (fun fact Kerala is the only state in India that democratically voted a Communist Government). When I pressed, Sivaraaj pin pointed the two main reasons for starting this work here – to break the caste system and to address environmental concerns that were coming about at the time. I asked him what changes he has seen since starting, and he said that “we have gotten women out of the home, and we have been a pacifier for the religious tension that boiled over a few years ago.” He indicates that the organization has gained a lot of respect for hiring all types of people (all religions) especially tribal people and women, and helping the community in an › Continue reading
Not long ago, my sister embarked on an extended traveling adventure with the goal of experiencing science in a variety of cultures to develop new educational curriculum in sustainability. This 3 part article series is about her experiences in India. Enjoy!
I had been in India 3 weeks before I discovered Bamboo Village. Prior to leaving, I had read in the Sivananda Ashram copy of the Lonely Planet that the Wayanad wildlife area is the most beautiful place for wildlife sighting, in Southern India – even “ask an Indian!” I had 16 days left so decided to start heading for a town nearby named Sultanbatheri – a place from which a jeep or trek into the forest, one can experience a variety of wildlife and – possibly (gasp) Tigers! I set off via train then local bus. We went winding through the mountains and brisk hill stations of Coonoor and Ooty, monkeys watching and eating on the side lines like the road were a parade route. To my delight these places were breathtaking – and the routes afforded wonderful views. Also, I started to see something I had never seen so far in my travels in Kerala and the south – environmental propaganda signs. I was wishful that they would have a solid law backing the “no plastic in Nilgiri Hills” proclamation, but soon found that they did not. The gorgeous rolling tea and coffee fields were lined with the usual plastic bags and bottles. India has an issue – the tap water is perceived to be unsafe to drink therefore, bottled water is sold everywhere – even in restaurants. Containers are discarded and can be seen everywhere you go. Just as in my Kerala backwaters boat tour – floating plastic debris among lily pads and invasive plants – and there doesn’t seem to be › Continue reading
A hit with the European crowd like the English ramblers and German trekkers, walking tours are moving over the pond to our shores now.
Inn To End, a Northern California walking tour company has walking tours exploring the beautiful coast and redwood forests of the San Francisco Bay area.
All based on the ‘walking holiday’ premise, these walking vacations range from 2 days to a week with overnights in quaint bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels along your journey.
- All Accommodations Reservations and Booking
- All Breakfasts
- All Luggage transfers
- Custom Trip Package with Maps, Trail Descriptions and Local Info
- A Local contact number
- Assistance with pre and post trip reservations
Your luggage is transported between hotels, so all you have to do is pack a few treats and a camera for the trek.
The trails guide you along coastal bluffs, through giant redwood forests and rolling hills of vineyards and pastures. Explore Northern California on foot and see the natural world in a truly natural way, Inn To End. › Continue reading
When one speaks of Thailand, often images of elephants are conjured up. Images of elephants are everywhere, from temples and shrines to logos and even the name of their beer (Chang, which means Elephant in Thai). The Thai people seem to have a deep reverence for these magnificent creatures, however, there is a darker almost contradictory side to this appearance.
Almost all of the domesticated elephants (those used for work and human contact) have been subjected to a ‘breaking of the spirit’ in a device called the Phajaan.
Squeezed into a cage only large enough to contain the baby elephant, they are chained into place, beat with sticks of bamboo and poked with sharp devices with hooks and nails. For 6 days or even longer, these elephants as young as 4 are subjected to this brutality without food, water or shelter. This is usually the time they are permanently separated from their mother and family, to begin their life of servitude.
Elephants have largely played a working role in Thailand. Used as war machines by Alexander the Great, they have been used as working animals for logging and farming for generations. With Thailand’s dwindling forests, and now a ban on logging, these elephants are finding themselves out of work and in trouble. Many elephant owners and mahouts (elephant keepers or drivers) have adapted to the tourist industry by using their elephants for jungle treks and walks. Others have used brutal torture techniques to train their elephants to perform tricks or paint. Often in cities around Thailand, you will see elephants begging in the streets for their mahouts, which generate a great deal of income for the owner at a great expense to the elephant.
With all of this brutality and pain, there is a ray of light. The Elephant Nature Park along with its founder, Sangduen Chailert, known as ‘Lek’, have created a sanctuary for these retired and abused elephants and is educating people around the world about the plight of these Asian Elephants. › Continue reading
Where in the world is The Chic Ecologist? Well, check his new globe trotting travel blog, New Spore. He is on a whirlwind trip down through South America, across to New Zealand, Australia, then back up through Asia hitting places like Singapore, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
You will find travel tips, great adventures, packing secrets, secret spots, hidden treasures and more. Great for the backpacker, shoestring budget traveler and culture seekers alike along with great photography along the way. Follow him up to the moment on twitter as @New_Spore.
I’ve recently come across the coolest little gadget for men, and perhaps even for women. It may be old news but it’s worth being brought up again: the Sol Shaver and other solar razors like it. These electric razors are solar powered, something I didn’t actually ever expect to see on the production line because most people only use their razors behind closed doors, in bathrooms, in the morning.
But for those of us with busy schedules, constantly moving around, often traveling, this device is simply perfect. If you go camping, you can’t really say no to bringing one of these along. Likewise, spring break is coming along quite soon and many of us will be taking a long road trip ending up on a beach somewhere (plenty of sun). Wouldn’t this be the handiest thing to have?
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