As the plane tips its wings toward the airstrip, I can see a mass of volcanic lava covering a large part of the land below, the green and blue turning into an immense brown, so alien as if I am reaching somewhere uninhabited, perhaps the edge of the world. On the horizon, volcanoes rise from the floor, reminding this is a place whose history has been shaped by fire; a far off group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean formed five million years ago out of powerful volcanic combustion.Continue reading
There had been heavy rain since we landed in Kauai, but now the clouds are slowly lifting. The sun insists on making its way through as I stop paddling for a few seconds to admire dramatic emerald mountains around Hanalei Bay – a long right-hand point break in the long stretch of beach where I am surfing – with views to cascading waterfalls.Continue reading
Traveling 631 km south-east of Perth – one of the most out-of-the-way cities on Earth, in far-off Western Australia, is a long way from anywhere. As I traverse Western Australia, I’m hit by that uncanny fizz of sacrifice, the struggle that reminds me this is a part of the world for the patient traveler. The one willing to move slowly and endure large, empty distances to discover pure landscapes, where few others have been. It’s a place that makes you feel things and realize that travel, after all, is an act of movement. I’ve been hooked on WA for a while; perhaps it’s the challenge of getting here, the sense of conquest at the end of each journey that I find so appealing – or it’s the effort that always, always pays off.Continue reading
My search for the world’s most exotic tribes in one of the most undocumented landscapes left on the planet ends in dramatic encounters. In Papua New Guinea, not only do I come across extraordinary indigenous peoples who adorn themselves with wondrous ornamentation and keep alive ancient rituals, but I also discover the most pristine offshore reefs that remain.
The snow has been falling since we arrived in Nozawa Onsen, a traditional Japanese town that sits at the center of a skiing area in mountainous Nagano province. It’s a chilly late afternoon in February. With the ski lifts already closed, I stroll across charming, wood-paneled streets lined with buildings that have stood since the Edo period (1603-1868). Each of the narrow streets is fringed with steaming water as if the entire town was built around a network of mountain streams. The water running from the volcanic springs is channeled away to heat private houses and the almost 30 public Onsens, from which the town gets its name. Nosawa gained a good deal of popularity thanks to these hot spring baths many years before snowsports became a thing in the country.Continue reading
Los Angeles has a soul. La-La Land is filled with the glamour of Hollywood and movie set backdrops. Yet, it’s also home to some of the United States’ very best museums, like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, outstanding art galleries, and architectural masterpieces like the Getty Center. Sure, it’s a sprawling metropolis with eternally congested freeways, but it also contains one of the most diverse and unique sets of neighborhoods in the States. It’s a town that feels like a country, and is so culturally diverse, where the greatest challenge for travelers is not what to do, but which version of this vast city to embrace.
I love the effortlessly sophisticated, the outrageous, and the romantic sides of Italy, from a heavenly pasta to the most spectacular monuments. It’s capable of stirring emotion and touching every sense, in a way that’s unrivaled worldwide. No wonder its extraordinary mix of archaeological treasures, architecture, exquisite cuisine, and fine art has long proved irresistible to travelers. But as much as I adore Italy, I cannot deny that with all its allures, comes the inevitable growth of tourism.Continue reading
In the small village of El Rocio, in the province of Huelva, deep Andalusia, Spain, I hear the girl next to me say: “Today is a big day.” I have just arrived from Finca la Donaira – in the highlands of Sierra de Grazalema – on time for Saca de las Yeguas, an ancient ritual among Spain’s most significant horse events.Continue reading
From a fenced-window car, I see barbed wires. Everywhere. I also watch kids on the streets carrying machetes bigger than themselves. I have just landed in the deep mountainous interior of Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands – a place that has long set in the very edge of my imagination. On Thomas’car – our local guide – we head from Tari town to Tari’s countryside, in the center of the Huli country in the Hela Province. I’m pretty aware of PNG’s reputation for being especially dangerous, overrun with gangs of hoodlums and terrorized by violence. But I’m also mindful that Papua New Guinea is without a doubt among the most culturally intriguing frontiers left on the planet. I am traveling in a place that both frightens and excites utterly – because it feels like the real thing.
It’s almost harvest season in Munduk Mountain Valley. The sun is about to set, and birds approach the rice fields, despite chased away by farmers, who remain on constant alert. Here, in this pocket of North Bali, there is a sublime emptiness. The climate is surprisingly refreshing and the vibe, bucolic. I’m in Sanak, a small family-run retreat, where I find myself amidst tropical landscapes with scenic mountains. It has the essence of an older Indonesia and feels like the Bali of another time.