Best online resources for exotic backpacking destinations?
January 6, 2008 12:36 AM   Subscribe

What are the best online resources for adventurous backpacking to obscure places?

Ideally, I'd love to find a well-written blog chronicling exotic travel. Bonus for great images and video.

I'm actually not huge on big hikes/climbs or purely Outdoor things unless the payoff is really amazing or it's especially exotic. I'd love to hear more about navigating quiet, strange, small to medium-sized towns in places like S. America, Asia, Indonesia, Africa, etc, most especially places which don't see many tourists. Thanks!
posted by deern the headlice to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I've been reading Woolgatherer, a blog written by some guy as he travels through the Middle East/Asia. It's sporadically updated, and not terribly 'small town' based but has interesting stories. I think I found it on mefi somehow, in a similiar askMe question perhaps?
posted by jacalata at 1:03 AM on January 6, 2008

I really like Road Junky. It's more of a guide than a blog, but the people running it seem to have a lot of experience doing some more adventurous type backpacking. Also the guy in charge of that site has his entire book online for free. It's really cool to read about his travels from England to India with pretty much no money.
posted by bindasj at 1:12 AM on January 6, 2008 is an interesting jumping off point for finding exotic places and things to do. It can also make things surprisingly affordable.
posted by georgemandis at 1:30 AM on January 6, 2008

This may be a bit pedantic for you, but Lonely Planet is a great resource for all sorts of travels, from mundane to exotic. They have their Thorn Tree forum, too, while not a blog exactly, does have information and stories about pretty much every place imaginable. You could ask your question there too, and perhaps get recommendations or links from the people actually in those exotic places you're looking for.
posted by elendil71 at 1:37 AM on January 6, 2008

most especially places which don't see many tourists

This part is tough because it's so relative. I'd say that in any country, you're going to have more- and less-touristed places. So I'd suggest choosing a region of the world, and going to places in the "Whole-Continent/Country-in-One-Volume" books which have the fewest number of pages dedicated to them.

For example, I'm living in Latvia right now, and in the Lonely Planet "Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania" guidebook, there's a 10-page section on the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Visa issues preculde casual wandering for weekend trips as it's a part of Russia, and full Russian visas (I believe) are required to visit. I've never met anyone - even among my Russian friends - who's been there.

When I was living in Indonesia last year and had the Lonely Planet "Indonesia" guidebook, Java and Bali had the most coverage, and places that were more difficult to reach (say, everything east of Lombok and Sulawesi) had, naturally, less coverage, as fewer people would be going there, and the authors of the book assumed that they didn't need as much coverage in those areas.

So then, not really an online resource so much as a go-to-the-library-and-look-at-the-thickness-of-the-pages-in-a-guidebook resource.
posted by mdonley at 2:07 AM on January 6, 2008

It is limited to certain parts of Southeast Asia, but is one of my favories.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 4:21 AM on January 6, 2008

Well, I can direct you to my own blog of my travels in Brazil particularly this, this, and these photos (working backward).

I traveled extensively for this reason, 6 months in Northeastern Brazil with the intention of visiting the most rural, unvisited areas. And I'm excited that someone else is doing this. While traveling in these backwater towns I never met another traveler and only heard rumors about other foreigners that had passed through. I met some people who didn't know that the United States was outside of Brazil.

If I can offer any general advice, it would be first and foremost to learn the language where you are traveling. Generally I would arrive in the city, the county seat, and research names of small towns in the county. Sometimes these will be on your map, sometimes not (in fact, in Brazil the state map may show one or two villages in a county, when in actuality there are upwards of 200 - you can generally find a county map in Brazil by going into the "prefeitura" and asking). In developing nations, there is always a way to get somewhere as no one has their own transportation.

Generally, the biggest difficulty in rural travel is accommodation. In theory, you are limited by villages that have some type of guesthouse. But as my travels progressed and I worked up more confidence, I visited villages that didn't, carrying my hammock and a mosquito net, asking the villagers where I arrived if I could sleep in the "casa de forno" (the community farinha cooking house). More often than not, I was invited into houses and stayed with families (in this case I was traveling by foot).

There is an interesting ethical consideration - you are uninvited and appearing in communities. But I was always welcomed with open arms, and I always used this opportunity to share and answer as many questions as I could about my world (even as you become exhausted by the same questions), carrying a guitar to play and show music to the children (who sometimes had never seen one), and on return to the states sending them photos, postcards, etc.

I would encourage you or anyone to travel to the places off the map. Rural living, wherever, possesses certain simplicity and quality that you can never find in the cities. Good luck!
posted by iamck at 11:11 AM on January 6, 2008

Not really a guide, but two friends of mine did a seven week trip last summer through China, Thailand, Cambodia, and a bit of Burma. You can read their blog here.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 2:24 PM on January 6, 2008

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