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.
We rise up in a Cessna over the Wetlands of Australia’s largest National Park. My stomach lurches as I look down on an incredible variety of landscapes – coastal swamps, floodplains, lowland hills, escarpment, monsoon rain forest, and ancient plateau. Beneath me, crocodiles scuttle into the East Alligator River, and a fabulously diverse range of birds navigate over the plains. I look in every direction and see nothing on the horizon. From the sky, I have a glimpse of the immensity of Kakadu’s wilderness: it’s half the size of Switzerland – the whole Park is a protected area of nearly 20.000 Km2.Continue reading
Into the blue of a remote greek seaside, far away from Athens. I am in Koufonisia, an island hidden away between the larger Cycladic islands of Naxos and Amorgos. A place with no real roads and hardly any cars. Here I find more boats than residents; where locals live mainly from fishing.Continue reading
“Ladakhis have little to do with the rest of India,” whispers Tom. Our guide – a young local, and a skilled motorbiker – drives us across Leh. “We are more Tibetan than Indian,” he says, “We are in a Buddhist region, within a majority- Hindu country; For a thousand of years, our Kingdom was an independent monarchy.”Continue reading