Interesting writers, travellers and explorers:


Benedict Allen – whose Mad White Giant was just the first of a string of epic travel books.  And who recently made the BBC Radio 4 radio series Two Men And A Mule with Hugh.

Roz Savage – who having joined one of my Peruvian expeditions is now the first woman to have rowed across the Pacific. With a high tec tracker so you could follow her progress (she always did have the best gear!)  Last seen crossing the Indian Ocean as well.

Mike Jay – who has helped me navigate the wilder shores of Peruvian hallucinogenic substances when writing about them, and has written some excellent books on drug and other cultures.

Christopher Somerville who has walked more of Britain’s wild places and the world than just about anyone else I know….

…except possibly Rob Macfarlane who has also explored some intriguing mountains of the mind and carried on the legacy of the wonderful and much missed Roger Deakin.

Bidisha, whose Jamesian memoir of Venetian Masters and manners probes at the darker side of La Serenissima.

William Dalrymple, whose recent and excellent Nine Lives book begins by describing a walk to a shrine at the source of the Ganges – a walk I later took with him, arriving at Kedernath just as the snows were melting and the ash-smeared naked naga sadhus arriving …..

And for a healthily uncommercial contrast to the Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman project of motorbiking around the world, check out the delightfully eccentric late Hubert Kriegel who travelled around the world with his sidecar – but without a support team.

A collection of travellers doing some mad cycling adventures – like crossing the world on a Penny farthing – can be found at the aptly named

Or take the Magic Bus to India with Rory MacLean, whose Berlin Blog makes fine reading as well.

I am a great admirer of Dervla Murphy, now in her 80s, who remains passionate about politics, conservation, bicycling and beer after some 20 travel books over a career that spans half a century.   See my interview with her in the Telegraph

And for some serious and knowledgeable writing about Egypt, nobody beats Anthony Sattin.  As described in my review of his latest book.

Also in that part of the world, see Robert Twigger, author of some terrific travel books and coordinator of The Explorer School.  His website contains some essential advice tips, like ‘how to shit in the desert’.

Another Arabist is  Barnaby Rogerson who somehow manages to combine writing  a series of fine books about the Middle East, like his recent The Last Crusaders, with co-running Eland, an admirable publishing company specialising in travel.

Paul Theroux has some acerbic and funny views on e-books and travel writing in an article for the Atlantic, which includes the following exchange:

Intv:  ‘The inevitable question: What’s your advice for a young person who wants to grow up to become a fiction writer?’

PT: ‘Notice how many of the Olympic athletes effusively thanked their mothers for their success? “She drove me to my practice at four in the morning,” etc. Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home.’

Conni Biesalski’s attractive blog preaches the unlimited freedom of a nomadic lifestyle;  she has been living, working and travelling around the world since she was fifteen.

Nicholas Asheshov has finally been bullied – by me – into collecting his excellent articles for his column Country Notes about Peru onto a website, so they can finally receive the mass adulation they  undoubtedly deserve.


Advice about travelling off the beaten track in South America:

Highly recommended American-based trekking company – and friends of Hugh’s:  Adventure Specialists, run by Gary Ziegler and Amy Finger, who offer the chance to join an archaeological research expeditions in the Andes as well as various horse tours.

Machu Picchu on-line

For a recommended and friendly base in the Urubamba valley from which to base treks – and where I lived for a while with my family as described in Cochineal Red:  K’uychi Rumi.  Take a pot of English mustard for Carlos.


General on Peru:

 Caretas:  the very funny and sharp Peruvian equivalent to Private Eye, with a weekly column by veteran British explorer Nicholas Asheshov, see above. 

Specialist web-sites:

Best bibliographical resource on Machu Picchu

best Andeanist on-line resource

For the complete digital Guaman Poma: Guaman Poma

Gary Urton’s impressive research project on the meaning of the khipus, the knotted cords used by the Incas and earlier Peruvian civilisations but as yet largely undeciphered.

The Cusichaca Trust, which  pioneered the restoration of traditional Andean agricultural terraces and irrigation canals and has tried to combat rural poverty with innovative technology.


for forthcoming talks and readings – and  for some treks Hugh is leading to Peru


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