THE ARDENT ENTHUSIAST

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Vilcabamba is a village in the southern region of Ecuador, in the Loja province, about 45 km (28 mi) from the city of Loja. The etymology of the name “Vilcabamba” apparently derives from the Quichua “huilco pamba.” Huilco denotes the sacred trees, Anadenanthera colubrina, that inhabit the region; pamba (cognate with pampa) is a word meaning “a plain”. The area has been referred to as the “Playground of the Inca” which refers… Read More

The Tallest Natural Arch in the World Note: An abridged version of this post appears on Atlas Obscura.             Eric Shipton (1907-1977), the famed British mountaineer, was well-known for a quip he once made with his climbing partner, Bill Tilman, that they could “organise a Himalayan expedition in half an hour on the back of an envelope.” In 1947, when he was the British consul in Kashgar, he used… Read More

In the summer of 2011 I went on a 21-day horseback trek through the Altai Mountains in Western Mongolia. After the trek we set up our yurt at a 3-day Eagle Festival. The Boss-lady on the trek was a Kazakh woman named  Amangul. She was a prize-winning singer and musician, and one night she entertained us in the communal yurt. For addition information and a photo gallery… Here is a video of… Read More

A Mani Stone along the ‘kora’ around Mount Kailash – August 2007

The Minaret of Jam The Central Route through Afghanistan from Kabul to Herat was the Holy Grail of travel adventures. In 2006 I traveled with Paul Clammer when he was writing the Lonely Planet Guidebook to Afghanistan. One of my photographs of the Minaret of Jam appears in that book.