With an enthusiastic team you can achieve almost anything.
Real travel is not about the highlights with which you dazzle your friends once you’re home. It’s about the loneliness, the solitude, the evenings spent by yourself, pining to be somewhere else. Those are the moments of true value. You feel half proud of them and half ashamed and you hold them to your heart.
A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you.
Contemplation is a luxury, requiring time and alternatives.
The forest did not tolerate frailty of body or mind. Show your weakness, and it would consume you without hesitation.
Respect was one thing. Survival was another. It was important that I kept my priorities in the right order.
Money spent on good-quality gear is always money well spent
I felt sure we could gain the upper hand by putting ourselves in the mindset of the Incas.
Calcutta’s the only city I know where you are actively encouraged to stop strangers at random for a quick chat.
If hot food is they key to maintaining an expedition’s stamina, then low grade gut-rot alcohol is the key to sustaining its sense of pleasure.
For my father there was no sharper way to understand a country than by listening to its stories.
I believe that Marrakech ought to be earned as a destination. The journey is the preparation for the experience. Reaching it too fast derides it, makes it a little less easy to understand.
The pursuit of illusion is not about studying for prizes, or for study’s sake. There’s no right or wrong, no pass or fail.
My father used to say that stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind.
Most journeys have a clear beginning, but on some the ending is less well-defined. The question is, at what point do you bite your lip and head for home?
Enlightenment, and the death which comes before it, is the primary business of Varanasi.
The backstreet cafe in Casablanca was for me a place of mystery, a place with a soul, a place with danger. There was a sense that the safety nets had been cut away, that each citizen walked upon the high wire of this, the real world. I longed not merely to travel through it, but to live in such a city.
During the days I felt myself slipping into a kind of madness. Solitary confinement has an astonishing effect on the mind. The trip was to stay calm and keep myself occupied. I spent hours working out how to break free. But trying to escape would have been instant suicide.
The very fact that a Frenchman was prepared, after two minutes of conversation, to be so friendly towards anyone, especially one who had come from England, made me restless.
For me, nature is something you watch on the Discovery Channel, or on the evening news — as you learn how much more of it’s been savaged to make way for the Blackberry realm that is my home
Back at the Chateau Windsor there was a rat-like scratching at the door of my room. Vinod, the youngest servant, came in with a soda water. He placed it next to the bag of toffees. Then he watched me read. I was used to being observed reading. Sometimes the room would fill like a railway station at rush hour and I would be expected to cure widespread boredom
The desert was bad, but nothing could compare with the horrors of a tropical rain forest.
My father used to tell me that stories offer the listener a chance to escape but, more importantly, he said, they provide people with a chance to maximize their minds. Suspend ordinary constraints, allow the imagination to be freed, and we are charged with the capability of heighetned thought.
Learn to use your eyes as if they are your ears, he said, and you become connected with the ancient heritage of man, a dream world for the waking mind.
The mere mention of the Farakka Express, which jerks its way eastward each day from Delhi to Calcutta, is enough to throw even a seasoned traveller into fits of apoplexy. At a desert encampment on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, a hard-bitten adventurer had downed a peg of local fire-water then told me the tale. Farakka was a ghost train, he said, haunted by ghouls, Thuggees, and thieves. Only a passenger with a death wish would go anywhere near it.
As a travel writer I’ve specialized in gritty, fearful destinations, the kind of places that make a reader’s hair stick on end.