Travel ideas from all time great explorers

Ibn Battuta provides the earliest description of the Great Wall of China with regards to Islamic geography. — Pic and info courtesy of Wikipedia
Ibn Battuta provides the earliest description of the Great Wall of China with regards to Islamic geography. — Pic and info courtesy of Wikipedia
by Anis Ibrahim

I HAVE always been an advocate of long-term travel — not necessarily non-stop travel, but extended trips beyond three weeks. If you work full-time and can wrangle an arrangement with your bosses to take a month off, go for it. But what do you do and where do you go for (at least) a whole month? If you haven’t decided on a route or destination, borrow a few ideas from books, movies or explorers who have gone before you. Ibn Battuta Ibn Battuta, regarded as the greatest explorer of all time, set off alone from his native Morocco in 1325 when he was only 20. His main purpose for leaving home was to perform the haj, but the wonderful thing was that he went on travelling for 29 years and covered 44 countries, going as far as China, Persia, Central Asia and northern Africa. At the end of the 29 years, he had travelled 120,700km either by camel, donkey or on horseback. His stories can be found in his book The Travels (‘Rihla’). You don’t have to do his entire route, just parts of it would be enough of an adventure. Marco Polo An explorer who is more famous than Ibn Battuta, although he travelled less extensively and in far better conditions, was Marco Polo. Polo set out from Venice with his uncles in 1269 to meet Kublai Khan, the ruler of the Mongol dynasty, with whom they were trading. You can learn more about the route he took in Book of the Marvels of the World, also called The Travels of Marco Polo. Jack Kerouac If you love to travel and read, chances are you’ve heard of American writer Jack Kerouac. His book On The Road is a roller-coaster of a read on the road trips which his lead character takes across the United States between 1947 and 1950. The book, which is in fact about Kerouac’s own travels, sets out four main road trips: New York to San Francisco, North Carolina to San Francisco, Denver to New York and finally New York to New Mexico. You can chart your own course between the start and finish points, but if you’d like to follow in Kerouac’s steps, you’ll find maps on the numerous websites in tribute of the author. The Da Vinci Code trail Whether you love or hate Dan Brown’s detective novel The Da Vinci Code, the trail of history and intrigue featured in the book is a fascinating one. In the novel, Robert Langdon’s search begins in the Louvre Museum in Paris. His research leads him to the Temple Church and Westminster Abbey in London, then the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, and back again in Paris. You don’t have to be a fan of Dan Brown’s books to enjoy this route, which will take you to some interesting historical sites. The Sherlock Holmes trail (short trip) Sherlock Holmes has seen a bit of a revival in recent years thanks to the modern-day interpretation in the BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch. You can either include parts of the English countryside where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books were set or confine yourself to a Sherlock Holmes trail within London (visit www.walks.com for more information). Your starting point should be at the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street where, according to Conan Doyle, Holmes and Dr Watson lived from 1881-1904. Other London landmarks that have been featured in the books are Charing Cross, the Strand and Covent Garden. If you’re interested in visiting the flat featured in the BBC series, you’ll need to go to 187, North Gower Street, near Euston Station. This is also where you’ll be able to see Speedy’s, the café below Holmes’ flat. Further away from London, you might be interested to know that Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles at the Duchy Hotel in Princetown, Dartmoor, now the High Moorland Visitor Centre. For those with lots of time: 1 — The Chinese Silk Road: Overland from Beijing to Kashgar, by rail and road. Set aside at least five weeks to fully enjoy this journey. 2 — The Trans-Siberian Railway: By rail from Moscow to Vladivostok, or vice versa. At least four weeks. 3 — The Trans-Mongolian: By rail from Moscow to Beijing via Ulaanbaatar, or vice versa. At least five weeks.