Reading is one way to explore the world without having to leave home. And while there’s nothing better than actually travelling, reading about the many amazing places in the world is a great way to learn and find inspiration for travel-based learning. These books can be good for our brains and souls, teaching us about different lives, cultures, and ways of thinking.
Here are five books that inspire travel-based learning.
Books to Inspire Travel-Based Learning
#1 The Cloud Garden, by Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder
Botanist Tom Hart Dyke and adventurer Paul Winder chronicle their kidnapping experience in this book, the Cloud Garden. In 2000, they set off to Central America, where they find themselves at the wrong place and time while at the Darien Gap. They got captured while in search of orchids in the jungle and held captive for nine months by FARC guerrillas.
The Cloud Garden tells the story of courage, endurance, and survival as they talk about their journey to freedom from their captors. Those learning to become a jungle expedition guide may also find this book inspiring to read. This book will make you realise that exploring jungles must not be taken lightly, no matter how seasoned you are.
If you are setting out to explore the jungles of Central America, this is one of the books you need to read. It will transport you right into the Darien Gap, one of the most mysterious places on the planet, teeming with venomous snakes and hostile individuals. If you get bitten by a snake or captured by these individuals, your chances of coming out alive are pretty slim. Those seeking to explore the Darien Gap must consider travelling with a well-connected and reputable guide to minimise these dangers.
#2 Valley of the Assassins by Freya Stark
Written by Freya Stark, the Valleys of the Assassin chronicles the author’s travels into Luristan, a mountainous terrain set between Iraq and Iran, often with only one guide on a shoestring budget. Growing up in poverty and deprived of formal education, Stark developed a fascination for the Middle East after reading Arabian Nights.
It was not until she was in her thirties that she decided to leave Europe and set out on an adventure to the Middle East. In 1927, she boarded a cargo ship to Beirut and went on to become one of the most intrepid explorers of her generation. Her adventures took her to the remote areas in Turkey, the Middle East and Asia.
In the book, she wrote engagingly about the nomadic people who lived in the region’s valleys, bringing to life stories about the ancient kingdoms of the Middle East. With the help of locals and guides, Stark managed to get around the area quite a lot. She went on a treasure hunt, travelled towards the Valley of the Assassins, and sought out graves and ancient sites. Her personal account of her adventures is a highly readable narrative and richly drawn, especially the sympathetic portrait of people, narrated from a compelling point of view.
#3 Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa’s Natural Treasures by Richard Leakey
Wildlife Wars is a fascinating memoir written by Leakey, who emerged as an expert on early humans. In 1989, she became the head of Kenya’s Wildlife Department, putting him in charge of saving elephants from extinction.
The book has become very controversial as it gives the full story of Leakey’s crusade to save the natural resources of Kenya, most especially the African elephants. This crusade has set him against internal corruption and dangerous criminals. Sometimes, he would risk his own life for his love of Kenya, and his convictions about the direction his country must take to survive are unshakeable.
As you read through the book, you will probably find yourself drawn to Africa, specifically Kenya. You could be inspired not only to explore Kenya but to also lend some help in preserving the wildlife. When it comes to this, consider volunteering for African wildlife conservation projects. It’s a wonderful opportunity to observe wild animals for research, assist experts in hands-on conservation works, and even contribute through wildlife photography. Whatever volunteer program you choose, you are in for a true wilderness adventure while leaving a positive impact on the environment.
#4 The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Che Guevara
Everyone must have heard of Che Guevara, a young revolutionary who helped former Cuban President Fidel Castro overthrow the US-backed government. The Motorcycle Diaries is a memoir tracing Guevara’s early life, when he was still a young medical student, travelling South America on a motorbike together with his friend, Alberto Granado.
They travelled not to explore the usual tourist sites but to meet local people and get a good grasp of life in Latin America. During their journey across South America, he witnessed poverty, injustices, diseases, and hunger, radicalising his socialist thinking, and forming himself into the man who became one of the world’s most famous revolutionary and freedom fighters.
Even though Guevara’s depictions of South America in the book are often dark, he still managed to create an image that will inspire you to head out on an exciting adventure and discover this part of the world. The disasters and discoveries he encountered along the way are so compelling that you could find yourself packing up your bags for an adventure of a lifetime like he did.
#5 Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley talks about John Steinbeck’s journey across America. He believes that he might have lost touch with the country, so he set out on a voyage of rediscovery accompanied by a French poodle named Charley. They rode in a pickup truck, which he named Rocinante and ventured into almost forty states.
Driving into woods and desert plains, highways and dirt tracks, and glorious wilderness and large cities, he observed the gamut of America and the people who called it home. He narrated his observations during the 10,000-mile journey with remarkable honesty and a humorous eye.
Steinbeck saw things that made him angry, proud, delighted, and sympathetic, and his visions of the changing world still speak to most of us today.
What books have inspired you? Which titles would you suggest to others looking to undertake some travel-based learning?