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Pathfinders: best blogs, Instagram shots and videos from January 2019

 

Sunset at the Charles Bridge in Prague, with swans swimming in the river This month's Pathfinders round-up includes a rundown of Prague's top attractions © Roman Borodaev / Shutterstock

For many of us the first month of the year can often be a sleepy one, slipping by before we’ve even had chance to ponder potential holiday plans. This is not the case for our globetrotting Pathfinders community, however, who have wasted no time embarking on a miscellany of exciting adventures, from hiking hair-raising trails in Spain to uncovering the highlights of Prague.

To inspire you to kick-start your own 2019 travel plans, here’s a selection of our favourite blog posts, Instagram snaps and video content produced by our Pathfinders in January.

Best of the blogs

The Coral Gardener of Caramoan – Richard Collett

Aerial shot of a beach on the Caramoan Islands, the Philippines Richard's post focuses on his experience meeting an inspiring tour guide from the Caramoan Islands © Alexpunker / Shutterstock

Why we like it: regardless of how breathtaking a destination may be, it is often the people we meet on the road that make the strongest impression on us. This is seemingly the case for Richard, who, during a trip to the Caramoan Islands, in the Philippines, met 22-year-old Jomar, a tour guide who spends his precious time off repopulating local coral reefs that are under threat from acts like dynamite fishing. An inspiring tale skilfully weaved, the post should encourage us all to do our bit to help protect the fragile natural environment.

Richard is an adventure traveller and photographer who is addicted to getting off the beaten track. Read more of his stories at travel-tramp.com.

Caminito del Rey Malaga: walking the world’s most dangerous trail – Victoria Cao

A section of the Caminito del Rey, a narrow wooden walkway protruding from a sheer rock face In her post, Victoria attempts to conquer her fear of heights on the Caminito del Rey © Alvaro Trabazo Rivas / Shutterstock

Why we like it: a classic travel yarn about overcoming your fears, Victoria’s post shares her – somewhat harrowing – experience of taking on the Caminito del Rey, a heart-stopping hiking trail jutting out from the walls of a narrow gorge in the province of Malaga, Spain. The article makes for fun, fast-paced reading, with imagery that really helps bring, not only the sense of peril, but the beauty of the trail to life. Information about how travellers can undertake the hike themselves rounds off a rewarding read.

Whether it’s a short city break or big adventure trip, Victoria seeks out affordable luxury wherever she goes. Follow her adventures at vicadvisor.com.

Top Instagram shots

Reykjavik, Iceland – Micah Wright

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Why we like it: with its mountain highway snaking from one side of the image into the distance, and lone vehicle acting as the perfect central focus, Micah’s Iceland shot is a real masterclass in perspective. The yellow hued light source dappling the mountainscape from one corner of the image adds further depth, whilst also drawing the eye across from one corner to another, and off over the horizon. If ever there was an advert for road-tripping through the wild, snow-scattered landscapes of Iceland, this is it.

Micah is a travel photographer who travels the world on the hunt for his next frame. Follow him on Instagram – @wrightontheroad.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – Joan Torres

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Why we like it: what a colour palette! The unusual framing of Joan’s shot helps emphasise the vibrant shades of Jeddah’s old town buildings, owing to the positioning of the light source in the bottom right-hand corner. The slight, upward angled composition draws the eye from bottom to top, through the green and red gradients of the architecture and to the sky’s vivid blue. This dramatic backdrop provides a beautiful contrast to the crisp white of the foreground figure’s attire, which creates depth within the frame as a whole. Simply put, it’s an expert portrayal of a lesser-visited city.

Joan is a travel blogger focusing on finding off-the-beaten-track travel routes and hidden gems in the destinations he visits. Follow him on Instagram @againstthecompass.

Our favourite footage

3 days in Prague – Macca Sherifi

Why we like it: spring may be on its way for those of us in the northern hemisphere, but we still enjoyed this video of a rather chilly-looking Prague. From marvelling at must-see historical sights to indulging in the local food and drink scene, we loved this fast-paced, visual montage from Macca on the top things to do in the Czech Republic’s capital.

A Lonely Planet Trailblazer, Macca is the face behind An Adventurous World where he aims to inspire his readers to get out and explore more. See more of his work on his YouTube channel.

Find out what else the Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to by checking out the Pathfinders forum on Thorn Tree.

FREE mini-guides: Paris, Vilnius, Rio, Naples and Singapore

 

The March edition of Lonely Planet Magazine (UK) open to the Drinking in Rio mini-guide page The March edition of Lonely Planet Magazine (UK) is out now! © Lonely Planet

March’s edition of Lonely Planet Magazine (UK) has hit the shelves! This issue includes tales of epic hikes into the depths of the Grand Canyon, an exploration of Senegal’s diverse music scene and a round-up of the best islands to visit in 2019.

All this talk of travel got your feet itching? Take a sneak peek at this month’s selection of mini-guides. Found in the back of the magazine each issue, they’re available to download here for free!

A couple in a row boat at Bois de Vincennes with the Temple of Love in the background Leave the crowds at the Eiffel Tower and explore the other romantic sights of Paris © Mikhail Gnatkovskiy / Shutterstock

Romantic Paris

Beyond its backdrop of magnificent monuments, Paris’s magic lies in the unexpected: hidden parks, small bistros and cafés where you can watch local life unfold. Here are our top tips for a romantic break in the French capital.

> Download free PDF

Hot-air balloons flying over city of Vilnius at sunset The Lithuanian capital is a beguiling mix of old and new © Sabine de Milliano / 500px

Weekend in Vilnius

Vilnius, the Baroque beauty of the Baltic, is a city of immense allure. The Lithuanian capital might feel like an overgrown village in parts, but it has a cutting-edge side, too. Download the guide for our top picks of things to do on a weekend break.

> Download free PDF

View from the walkway on The Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore A trip to see the dynamic sights of Singapore doesn't need to break the bank © FuuTaMin / Shutterstock

Singapore on a budget

Mix new architecture and hip boutiques with smoky temples and old food markets, and you have a taste of Singapore. Find out how to make the most of the island nation if you’re visiting on a budget.

> Download free PDF

Outdoor bars at Baixo Gavea, Rio de Janeiro Get ready to party like a local in Brazil's Marvellous City © John Maier Jr / Lonely Planet

Drinking in Rio

When it comes to good times, Rio de Janeiro lives up to its nickname: ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ (Marvellous City). Here’s our pick of the best places to get a drink in Brazil’s second most populous city.

> Download free PDF

A man holding a typical Neapolitan Margherita pizza In search of Naples' best pizza, pasta and espresso? We've got you covered © Susan Wright / Lonely Planet

Eating in Naples

Naples has raw, high-octane energy; it’s a place of soul-stirring street life and unexpected, inimitable elegance. It’s also one of Italy’s epicurean heavyweights. Read on to find its best pizza, pasta and espresso.

> Download free PDF

Want more freebies? Check out last month’s mini-guides.

Insider knowledge: Monisha Rajesh on the golden rules of Indian train travel

 

In this guest post, Monisha Rajesh – author of Around India in 80 Trains – gives us the lowdown on how to get the most out of a travel experience like no other.

In 2010 I spent four months travelling the length and breadth of the Indian Railways network in the hope of lifting the veil on a country that had become a stranger to me. Covering 40,000km and 80 train journeys, I rode express trains, steam trains, Mumbai’s infamous commuter trains, a hospital on wheels, and even the odd luxury train as I discovered why Indian Railways is considered the bloodstream that keeps the nation’s heart beating. Carrying more than 20 million passengers a day, there is nowhere like it on earth. I left India with its grit beneath my nails, rocking in my bones, and a few good lessons under my belt…

Passengers in the doorway of an Indian train A trip aboard India's vast railway network always entails a sensory overload © Travel and Still Life Photography / Getty Images

Get equipped: the Darjeeling Limited this is not

The throng and clamour of Indian trains can be overwhelming even to those who can normally curl up and doze under any circumstances. Expect loud phone calls at 2am made just beside your ear, Hindi films playing at all hours, and large aunties perched on the end of your berth while you sleep. Keep a pair of earplugs, an eye mask, toilet roll, and a small bottle of hand soap available. Even though bedding is provided, pack a cotton sleeper sheet for warm nights.

Be savvy with your seating

For overnight journeys, reserve an upper berth. During the day everyone sits side by side on the lower berths, so it’s tough luck if you want to nap after lunch. However, with an upper berth, you can haul yourself up and snooze or read at will, clambering down to socialise again as the mood takes you. Passengers are strict to follow bedtime rules and will retire at 9pm, often waking early to reclaim their seats below, meaning lie-ins are a no-go if you’re in the lower berth.

Passengers inside the carriage of a moving train, India If you’re travelling overnight, choose your berth wisely – or prepare for a sleepless journey © ShikharBhattaria / Getty Images

Don’t expect to turn up and travel on the day

Indian ticketing bureaucracy ranges from complicated to infuriating with tickets going on sale 120 days in advance, so make sure you plan any long-distance journeys in good time. The beloved Indrail pass was discontinued in 2017 but foreign tourists can still buy tickets at most of the main stations using the foreign tourist quota. Book online at Cleartrip.com and check for schedules and routes using IndRailInfo.com. Touts can spot the virgin-fresh sheen of a new tourist a mile away and will descend en masse, but never buy tickets from anyone or anywhere but at a train station or through an official website as all tickets are sold through one central computerised system.

Get clued up on the class system

Indian Railways is a microcosm of Indian society, so work out which of the eight train classes suits your needs and budget. You can confine yourself to a first-class cabin with bolster pillows and bone china with no one to chat to but the ceiling fan or travel down in general class wedged onto a wooden bench with 18 people sharing samosas, sticky fruit and stories. Shatabdis, Rajdhanis, Durontos, Mail, Express and Passenger trains have different services, speeds and prices, and most importantly some are newer and safer than others.

The Nilgiris Mountain Railway, India Services vary depending on the class of train you catch, so it pays to understand the difference before you book © Naufal MQ / Getty Images

Tuck into the food

Train food is one of the best reasons to travel on Indian Railways. From the Deccan Queen’s traditional cutlet sandwiches and finger chips, to the Mandovi Express’s chicken lollipops, biryani and deep-fried okra, you will find hawkers wandering up the aisles dishing out the tastiest treats. Make sure to buy freshly cooked food that’s made on board or in front of you on the platform. Deep-fried foods like hot samosas and kachoris are a safe bet. And always carry bottled water.

Monisha Rajesh’s new book, Around the World in 80 Trains, is published by Bloomsbury. For more information, visit 80trains.com or follow @monisha_rajesh.

Pathfinder spotlight: Ellie and Ravi, Soul Travel

 

Ellie and Ravi in Jordan © Soul Travel Ellie and Ravi in Jordan © Soul Travel

Responsible tourism is the word on everyone's lips, but talk is cheap; this month, we turned the spotlight on Pathfinders Ellie and Ravi from Soul Travel who truly embody an eco-friendly travel style.

Give us the low down on your blog…

Soul Travel helps travellers find the best and most inspiring options for sustainable and eco-conscious travel around the world. We know that there are many wonderful eco-friendly accommodations, community tourism initiatives and tours and activities that actively give back and help host populations, but it’s not always easy to find them and work out if they are the real deal. That’s where we come in with our responsible travel guides.

We started the blog in 2015 as a sabbatical ‘project’, and it’s still going strong! We are very grateful to all of the thought leaders and sustainability pioneers that we have met on our journey so far, and it’s thanks largely to them that our enthusiasm for the blog has kept on growing.

Describe your travel style in three words…

Curious, immersive and sometimes-nostalgic.

Top three places you’ve visited?

India (particularly Ladakh and Maharashtra), Costa Rica (for the nature) and Iran (for the people).

A stunning panorama over Ladakh © Soul Travel A stunning panorama over Ladakh © Soul Travel

Tell us about your most unforgettable travel memory…

Probably something to do with Indian train journeys – we have a few stories on this topic. But the most epic was turning up at Jaisalmer railway station at midnight for our train to Haridwar (halfway across the country) only to find out our train was delayed by 10 hours. Seeing as no hotels were answering the phone at that time we had to spend the night at the railway station. Our train was cancelled in the end, but the story ends well; we managed to get a train out the following day and met one of the kindest families ever who kept us company for the 17-hour journey, and we’re still in touch today.

Why do you think it's important to advocate for sustainable travel?

It’s easy to think in today’s world (and especially thanks to social media) that travel is accessible to everyone, but only 20% of the world’s population has ever boarded a plane. We feel we have a duty – because we are privileged enough to be able to travel – to really care about our footprint and try to ensure our style of tourism benefits people in the places that we visit.

It’s also easier than ever to take small steps to travel in a better way, and these small steps add up to a huge difference. Imagine if everyone who travelled used a refillable water bottle vs single-use plastic, or chose to support local organisations vs chains wherever possible. We want to encourage our readers to make those changes wherever we can.

La Mangrove eco-resort in Goa © Soul Travel La Mangrove eco-resort in Goa © Soul Travel

What advice would you give someone looking to travel more responsibly?

There’s never been an easier time to travel more responsibly which is great news. Starting is easy: avoid single-use plastic wherever possible (take a refillable water bottle, bamboo straw, cutlery and reusable bags). If you need to fly, take direct flights where possible as these are more co2 efficient, or consider some overland slow travel if you have the time. Stay longer in one place to create a positive economic impact, too.

Read up about the destinations you visit ahead of time and see if there is a way to learn more about the cultural traditions, to interact with locals, and support local tourism initiatives. We love responsible travel platforms such as Visit.org, Backstreet Academy and I-Like Local for homestays, farmstays and responsible travel activities. We find the best travel memories and stories are the ones that have the best impact, too.

If you’re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, drop us an email at pathfinders@lonelyplanet.com and tell us what exciting things you’re up to on your blog.

Travel news quiz: January edition

 

Aerial view of the coral reef and deep cave that make up the famous diving spot of the Blue Hole in the Caribbean Ocean off the coast of Belize. What was found at the bottom of Belize’s Great Blue Hole? Find out in our quiz © Tami Freed / Shutterstock

Why have tourists angered Tasmanian authorities? And what will the money in Rome’s Trevi Fountain now be used for? Test your knowledge of the latest happenings in the travelsphere with our travel news quiz, featuring some of this month’s most intriguing Lonely Planet news stories.

TAKE THE QUIZ


Want more travel trivia? Have a go at last month's quiz.

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Pathfinder pics: the best moments of my life in South Africa and Zimbabwe

 

Lonely Planet Trailblazer and travel film maker, Siya Zarrabi, recently returned from the trip of a lifetime, on safari in South Africa and Zimbabwe (one of our top countries to visit in 2019). Here are the highlights and moments that made this adventure a truly unforgettable one...

Microlight over Angel Falls

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When I turned 30, I found one of my childhood books in my parents' basement. It was full of adventures in far-away places I didn’t even know were real, and all the amazing machines that existed to help you explore them. One page had a drawing of a kite big enough to hold a human, with a propeller behind it. I have wanted to fly in one my entire life, but have never had the opportunity. Amazingly, while exploring some stunning waterfalls in Zimbabwe, I saw an advert for the flying machine from my book. I had to navigate three hours by foot from Zimbabwe to Zambia to take the flight of a lifetime. I had goosebumps for the duration of the flight, but not from fear, from excitement.

Edge of the world

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The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa is one of the most southwestern points in Africa. The signs and guides are hard to miss, and so is the opportunity to stand on the edge of a continent for a photograph! This is a place where ostriches run wild, and the ocean fills your view. Along the water's edge, I was amazed by the millions of tiny barnacles clinging to the rocks, completely resistant to the waves smashing against them all day. The fascinating part of this view is beyond the horizon – the next stop out to sea is Antarctica.

Wild elephants

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My hope was to spot an elephant or two on our tour of Kruger National Park, however I certainly didn’t expect this scene. Emerging from the edge of a dried-up river was an entire pride of elephants. You can’t appreciate the magnitude of this animal until you see them for yourself. These huge herbivores roamed the dry riverbed for what little food and water there was left. From my viewpoint, I could see a pride of lions headed their way. The lions had no chance, they were out-numbered and out-muscled.

The local experience

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While in Johannesburg, South Africa I was photographing local life on the street; traffic, buildings, bicyclists, fruit stands, etc. The entire time a young boy, maybe 10 years old, was watching the process with curiosity. I could see his interest so I turned the camera around and let him have a go behind the lens. He lit up with enthusiasm and snapped photo after photo, even turning the camera sideways, mimicking my camera stances. I taught him about zoom and framing, which he picked up immediately. You can see by his face that this kid was taking the photography life seriously!

Planning for the future

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Travel inspiration for me comes from visual stories. My career as a travel filmmaker started before blogs and online video were a thing. All I had to inspire me were pictures in books and the Lonely Planet TV series! I dreamed of being a travel host like Ian Write, navigating through far-away lands and diving into distant cultures. Flash forward 20 years and I have my own travel video series on YouTube, and am now working with the company that started it all for me. It's a dream come true!

Do you love to write about your travels? Or perhaps Instagram is your thing? Find out more about our Pathfinders programme and how you can contribute to Lonely Planet here.

In the studio with Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, creator of the first logo

 

The first ever iteration of the Lonely Planet logo on the cover of 'across ASIA on the cheap' © Lonely Planet The first ever iteration of the Lonely Planet logo on the cover of 'across ASIA on the cheap' © Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet began life in 1973 when Tony and Maureen Wheeler made the trip of a lifetime – a honeymoon from London to Australia, across Europe and overland through Asia – with nothing but a car, a few dollars in their pockets and a sense of adventure. Perhaps a lesser known fact is that Tony Wheeler also created the Lonely Planet logo and turned his hand to illustration in the early days. We delved into the archives and caught up with Tony to learn more about the legacy of the logo.

Tell us about the first guidebook...

Our proposed book was too big for Tomato Press’ small printing press in Melbourne, but they put us in touch with David Bisset who had a larger press in his basement and agreed to print 1500 copies. I drew maps of the countries we’d visited, crudely drew illustrations, and we pasted up the typeset galleys to produce a book which came out to precisely 96 pages.

We needed two more things – a title for the book and a name for our fledgling publishing house. The title was easy; the book was about travelling across Asia on a tight budget, so we called it Across Asia on the Cheap.

Where did the name Lonely Planet come from?

Finding a name for our publishing business was less straightforward. We ran through dozens of names over bowls of spaghetti and glasses of cheap red wine in a small Italian restaurant on Oxford Street, London before inspiration hit. I’d been humming the opening line from the Matthew Moore song Space Captain, sung by Joe Cocker in the classic rock and roll tour film Mad Dogs & Englishmen. ‘Once while travelling across the sky,’ I sang, ‘this lonely planet caught my eye.’

‘No,’ said Maureen, ‘you’ve got the words wrong. As usual. It’s lovely planet.’

She was right, I always got the words wrong, but lonely planet sounded much nicer. I sometimes wished we’d come up with a more business-like, more serious name, but it’s certainly a name people don’t forget.

When did you draw the logo?

I sketched it for Across Asia on the Cheap in 1973, the same year Lonely Planet was founded. It was the first Lonely Planet title ever published. The book was hand stapled and trimmed in a basement flat in Sydney. I also drew the sketchy illustrations that feature on the front cover.

How has the logo changed since you first sketched it?

In 1975 I redid the logo with Letraset, a typeface that I thought looked good, and it really hasn’t changed that much over all the subsequent years. I'm proud of how it's retained its original identity!

When you sketched the Lonely Planet logo did you have any idea would last so long?

No, I had no idea the logo would survive so long! It's a bit like the Nike Swoosh which I think somebody sketched in a couple of minutes and was paid $20 for it.

If you could change anything about the logo, what would it be?

Nothing! I think at some point they did pay somebody real money to improve it, they might have made the circle a bit thicker or something, but no real change.

Do you still get a buzz seeing your logo lined up on bookshelves across the globe?

Absolutely. Who wouldn’t?!

Do you still sketch while travelling?

No, I take far too many photographs but I do keep a diary every day and carry a little notebook for when I can’t note something down on a phone or iPad. I love taking out-the-window aerial photographs, some of which can be seen here. I keep thinking, however, that sketching would be a good thing. The last time I can remember actually sketching something was because we stayed in the very flash Al Maha Desert Resort an hour or so out of Dubai about 15 years ago; our room came with an easel and a bunch of coloured pencils. You can see the sketch below.

Tony's illustrations and snaps

The 1975 edition of South-East Asia on a shoestring featuring the slightly more refined logo and some illustrations © Lonely Planet The 1975 edition of South-East Asia on a shoestring featuring the slightly more refined logo and some illustrations © Lonely Planet
The many editions of South-East Asia on a shoestring on display at Lonely Planet's 45th birthday party in 2018 © Teofil Rewers Photography. The many editions of South-East Asia on a shoestring on display at Lonely Planet's 45th birthday party in 2018 © Teofil Rewers Photography.
The retro logo in the window of the Lonely Planet shopfront office in Richmond, Melbourne, where Lonely Planet was based between 1980 to 1988 © Lonely Planet The retro logo in the window of the Lonely Planet shopfront office in Richmond, Melbourne, where Lonely Planet was based between 1980 to 1988 © Lonely Planet
The wooden cutouts by Peter Campbell (pictured left in the above image) displayed in the Melbourne shop front © Lonely Planet The wooden cutouts by Peter Campbell (pictured left in the above image) displayed in the Melbourne shop front © Lonely Planet
The Lonely Planet logo illustrated on a t-shirt on the cover of India: a travel survival kit by Peter Campbell © Lonely Planet The Lonely Planet logo illustrated on a t-shirt on the cover of India: a travel survival kit by Peter Campbell © Lonely Planet
'View from Room 19, Al Maha Desert Resort, UAE’ by Tony Wheeler in 2004 © Tony Wheeler 'View from Room 19, Al Maha Desert Resort, UAE’ by Tony Wheeler in 2004 © Tony Wheeler
Tony cutting a huge Lonely Planet globe cake at our 45th birthday party in 2018 © Teofil Rewers Photography Tony cutting a huge Lonely Planet globe cake at our 45th birthday party in 2018 © Teofil Rewers Photography
The modern Lonely Planet logo on full display at the London office © Lonely Planet

Wonderings: put the camera down and step away from the wombat

 

Illustration of a traveller looking out of a train window at a lake with mountains and forest in the background © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet Wonderings: rambles through and reflections on travel... this month, James Kay reflects on tourists behaving badly in the Antipodes © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet

Wombats. Wonderful creatures. I saw one once on the Overland Track, Tasmania. We were putting up our tent when it shuffled out of the undergrowth, unperturbed by our presence, as was much of the wildlife on that enchanted isle. Back then, my iPhone wasn’t capable of capturing a worthwhile image in the fast-fading twilight, so I didn’t bother taking a picture. But I can understand the desire to do so.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, imagine if a guinea pig had impregnated a water vole (remember them, anyone?), and the odd couple raised their offspring on a diet of Domino’s pizza, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and anabolic steroids. Wombats are rotund, rodent-like marsupials that reach about a metre long, but despite their bulk, they still elicit a reaction of ‘aw, isn’t he cuuuute!’ from most people who encounter them.

That was then, this is now

If I had come nose to nose with that wombat in daylight, I’d have taken a snap (just as I did of the short-beaked echidna that ambled across our path the following morning, nonchalantly sniffing my boot before trundling on). But would I have interposed my mug in the frame, made a moue like a man who has just found a tiger snake in his trouser leg, and splayed my index and middle fingers in the inevitable peace sign as I did so? I hope not, dear reader. I hope not. And I didn’t see any of my fellow walkers bothering the beast in this way as it snuffled outside our tents – drawn there, no doubt, by the scent of rehydrated cheesecake. Or sweat-starched socks.

But as cult novelist S.E. Hinton once put it, that was then, this is now. Instagram was just a few months old when we walked the Overland Track, and although #selfie first appeared on Flickr back in 2004, the term didn’t enter mainstream consciousness until 2013. How things have changed. So much so, officials from Tasmania's Maria Island now feel the need to make tourists pledge not to stalk the wombats with their selfie sticks, mob the poor blighters or even, believe it or not, pick them up for a cuddle.

Wombat at Lesueur Point. Maria Island, Tasmania Don't kid yourself, people – he doesn't want a cuddle © Posnov / Getty Images

As so often, Google’s search results are like a murky window on the mind; for example, you’ll often see a short list of questions commonly asked in relation to your subject – my search for ‘wombat’ turned up the following:

  1. Can I get a wombat as a pet?
  2. Are wombats dangerous to humans?
  3. Do wombats have square buttholes?
  4. Are wombats cuddly?

Question one bespeaks of our species’ destructive desire to domesticate any animal that looks remotely like a children’s toy: red pandas; bush babies; slow lorises; bearded tamarins, mouse lemurs; three-toed sloths… nothing is safe, not even wombats. The urge to cuddle these creatures (question four) comes from the same tragic place in our hearts. As for question three, I draw no inferences.

Does question two suggest the presence of a more mature traveller, who approaches these wild animals with the respect, and even caution, they deserve – and, moreover, wants them to stay wild? Perhaps. But then again, it might just be the would-be wombat cuddlers googling to make sure before ordering one on eBay. If threatened, wombats might bite, scratch or even charge a human being at a push, but the most likely reaction to an onrushing horde of selfie-stick-wielding strangers is not fight but flight, any which way they can. And who can blame them? I’d be down my burrow faster than you can say ‘cheese’.

Shoplift like it’s Purge Night

The Maria Island Pledge (I’ll paraphrase it: don’t be an imbecile, please) has echoes of the Tiaki Promise, the New Zealand tourism industry’s attempt to encourage visitors to engage their brains, show some respect and look after the country.

The promise fell on deaf ears when it came to a group of tourists – English, I’m sad but not surprised to say – who have caused ‘six weeks of strife’ in the North Island, littering, threatening locals and shoplifting like it’s Purge Night. Never mind menacing the native fauna; these anti-social ambassadors have taught the Kiwis a thing or two about bad behaviour, scandalising the nation to such an extent that there is talk of deportation.

When reporters tracked them down, a member of this now-infamous clan said – without a trace of irony, it seems – that they’d come ‘to see the hobbits’. Good grief. If I were a hobbit, this is the last thing I’d want to see rock up at the border of the Shire. Instead of sending them back here on the first available plane, can I suggest Mordor instead? They’d fit right in.

Pathfinders: best blogs, Instagram shots and videos from December 2018

 

The Maldives may be one of the most Instagram-worthy locations © Food Travel Stockforlife / Shutterstock The Maldives may be one of the most Instagram-worthy locations © Food Travel Stockforlife / Shutterstock

While most people slow down for the festive season, our merry band of bloggers, photographers and videographers have been going on even more epic adventures. December sees us basking in the natural beauty of Norway and the Maldives, taking a stroll round London’s twinkly Christmas markets and exploring quirky ways of getting under the surface of cities like Florence and Dublin.

Best of the blogs

More signs of a solitary traveller – Bobbi Fisher

The Ponet Vecchio bridge in Florence, Italy © Food Travel Stockforlife / Shutterstock The Ponet Vecchio bridge in Florence, Italy © Food Travel Stockforlife / Shutterstock

Why we like it: In a world where bloggers venture to increasingly intrepid locales and undertake ever more extreme activities to stand out, there is something wonderfully refreshing about Bobbi’s simple article showcasing a selection of quirky signs she’s spotted while wandering the streets of Florence, Italy. Bobbi’s amusing observations, from flood markings to warnings that ‘David (the statue) is not here’, highlights the joy that can be garnered from everyday surroundings.

Bobbi has been travelling solo for 20 years, her blog is an ode to a lifelong longing for silence, solitude and simplicity. Find out more at acottagebythesea.net.

Guinness’s goodness to Dublin: discover the Guinness legacy – Christophe Gaillard

Pulling pints at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin © VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock Pulling pints at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin © VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

Why we like it: Most travellers associate Guiness with the city of Dublin, home to its original factory where tours run daily. But few travellers will be aware of the extent to which the Guiness family shaped the city. In this article Chris hunts down the lasting legacy of the Guiness family, from the cathedral they helped save to the famous public park they created. The result is an entertaining and insightful post that will leave readers with a deeper appreciation for the distinctive black tipple and those who created it.

Chris is a Dublin-based blogger who endeavours to inspire travellers to visit the Celtic regions of the world. Discover more of Chris’s travels at celticwanderlust.com.

Top Instagram shots

Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives – Vicki Garside

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Why we like it: If ever there were a more drool-worthy, idyllic scene captured on camera, we've yet to see it. Vicki's snap of this deliciously shimmering pool on the shores of a Maldivian beach is not just a treat for the eyes due to its subject matter – the image is split perfectly into thirds, with the reflective depths of the water in the foreground, the lounger-lined beach and ocean in the centre, and the sun-kissed clouds unfurling into the distance. The delicate fringes of palm tree at either edge of the shot frame it expertly, and complete a totally dreamy palette of colours.

Vicki is a lawyer from the UK who walked away from her corporate wage to inspire others to see the world. Follow her on Instagram @maketimetoseetheworld.

Lofoten Islands, Norway – Michael Petrick

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Why we like it: The Northern Lights will never stop being a captivating subject to capture on camera, but Michael's shot of those iconic, neon-green bands snaking across a night sky stands out from similar frames due to its setting amongst the rooftops of Svolvær, Norway. The contrast in light sources within the image, from the porch lights of the houses below to the emerald ribbons above is truly striking – this is a skilfully captured snap of one of nature's most impressive phenomena.

Michael is a travel and photography enthusiast based in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Instagram @michaelpetrick91.

Our favourite footage

Best things to do in London at Christmas – Sven Koster

Why we like it: The Christmas season may well be done and dusted, but we enjoyed taking a look back at how Londoners celebrated with Svenywhere. From seeing the twinkling lights on Carnaby Street to strolling the festive Southbank markets, there are some lovely shots of London's attractions dressed up for Christmas throughout this video. We also particularly enjoyed the location markers and graphics which pop up throughout the video which give the viewer a sense of location and help them better plan their upcoming trip.

Sven is addicted to travelling and loves to experience destinations by getting to know the locals. Check out more of his videos on his YouTube channel Svenywhere.

Find out what else the Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to by checking out the Pathfinders forum on Thorn Tree.

Ask us anything about new year’s travel resolutions in our Twitter #asklp!

 

As the end of January draws closer, we’ve been thinking about all the travel-based resolutions that have been made – and possibly already broken. But how do you ensure your globetrotting goals go the distance? What’s the key to devising travel resolves that aren’t wildly unrealistic?

Well, for one glorious afternoon on Twitter, we’re throwing open the floor to any questions, queries and concerns regarding anything to do with making (and keeping!) travel resolutions. We’ll be on hand with our network of worldwide travel experts to bring you the best answers possible – all you have to do is #asklp!

How do I take part?

  1. Follow @lonelyplanet and the hashtag #asklp on Twitter, on Thursday 24 January between 15:00-18:00 GMT/7:00-10:00 PST
  2. Tweet us as many questions as you like on the subject of making and keeping travel resolutions, using the hashtag #asklp.
  3. We’ll consult the appropriate Lonely Planet staffer, and deliver you a bespoke answer within 24 hours!
  4. Go forth into 2019 with your newly acquired knowledge.

See you there!

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