3 mins

9 incredible stories to inspire your Wanderlust Writing Challenge entry

We've scoured the Wanderlust archives for nine travel stories and articles we think you should read, covering local life, communities around the world, and of course, kind strangers...

Meet the locals (Marcus Westberg)

If you're taking part in our two-week Wanderlust Writing Challenge, then we hope this reading list of past features will inspire your entry. Firstly, the daily writing prompt should help get pen to paper (perhaps literally, perhaps figuratively).

However, few things will help you along the creative path more than consuming great travel writing. To be a good writer, you should also be an avid reader. So, take note of the way the authors craft their pieces, start their stories, share their experiences with fellow travellers and the local communities they meet, and how they take you on the journey with them.

Here are 9 must reads for the Wanderlust Writing Challenge...

Salt of the earth: Meet the locals of Mauritius

by Emma Thomson

(SALT of Palmar)

(SALT of Palmar)

A new hotel in Mauritius is encouraging visitors to get out of their rooms and spend time with local artisans, fisherfolk and farmers, discovering a side to the honeymoon paradise that few witness…

The night was dark and I was faced with a tough choice: ginger, passion fruit, vanilla, rosemary, lemon, banana, cinnamon or coffee.

“Or one of each,” winked Mirella Armance, playfully bumping her hips against mine as she walked me along the line of her crystal-decanted homemade rums. “The only fruit you can’t use is pineapples,” she said, pouring a sailor’s-size measure into my glass and ushering me into her dining room...

Read the full article

Dispatches: Meeting Svaneti locals in Georgia's Caucasus Mountains

by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent

(Trans-Caucasian Trail)

(Trans-Caucasian Trail)

While making Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure for ITV, the author and TV producer Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent meets a memorable couple in the remote Svaneti region of Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains…

It’s lunchtime in Svaneti and already things have taken an alcoholic turn. “To our ancestors!” says Valeri, our host, raising yet another chacha-filled glass. “Gaumarjos!” I reply, grimacing as the home-made brandy ignites the back of my throat.

By the time we’ve toasted our families, St George, each other, good health, absent friends and the brother he lost fighting for Abkhazia, Valeri has offered me three hectares, a few cows and a house in the village.

“Bring your husband and make babies!” he cries, raising another glass...

Read the full article

The light fantastic: Go remote in Mongolia's Altai Mountains

by Henry Wismayer

(Marcus Westberg)

(Marcus Westberg)

Experience true remoteness in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia, with natural splendour, nomadic hospitality and swirling, luminous skies…

It was early evening in the Chigertei Valley when I found myself standing on a weathered buttress, cheering the sudden onset of clouds.

A fresh weather-front was barrelling in over the Altai massif, and now the clouds were pluming at the mountaintops, some of them wispy and translucent, others dark and throwing shadows, draping columns of rain. By now I understood what this foreshadowed.

Soon, the cloud-cover would fracture the dusk light, and sunbeams would daub chiaroscuro patterns on the land, transmuting the grasslands into prairies of gold. Far away, on the valley floor, smoke spiralled from yurt chimneys; a pair of boy-herders chivvied their sheep alongside a stream...

Read the full article

The spirit of Guyana: South America's best-kept secret

by Lyn Hughes

(Sarah Marshall)

(Sarah Marshall)

Unspoilt Amazon rainforest, one of the world’s tallest waterfalls and a haven for giant species – we visit a land where community-benefitting projects are thriving and wildlife is flourishing...

We heard them before we saw them. Strange chattering, barks and snuffling noises that I couldn’t place as I scanned the bird-rich waters of the lake that surrounded us.

For a moment, I thought back to the stories I had been told of spirits in Guyana’s lakes and forests. Then we saw the bobbing heads of a family of giant river otters looking at us, shouting half indignantly as if questioning our presence...

Read the full article

Dispatches: The hidden beaches of Liberia

By Mark Stratton

(Mark Stratton)

(Mark Stratton)

Liberia’s coastline hides some of the most spectacular stretches of sand on the planet, let alone West Africa. But can it overcome a traumatic past to attract the travellers it deserves – and needs?

Liberian journalist Carielle Doe fondly recalls childhood memories of 1980s beach holidays in her homeland. “When I was little, I’d go to Hotel Africa at the weekend. People of means would lounge at the pool, and I remember playing in the water,” she told me.

Nowadays, the five-star Hotel Africa resort, built in 1979, is a wreck. It sustained damage by rebel fighters during the First Liberian Civil War (1989 to 1996) and was later looted. I entered the lobby’s carcass to find a cantilevered staircase dangling like a shattered spinal-cord while broken tiles and glass crunched underfoot.

Not a window or door remained. Yet in the wreckage lay hope...

Read the full article

Helicopters and horses: Life as a nomad on the wild steppes of Kyrgyzstan

by Lyn Hughes

(Dreamstime)

(Dreamstime)

Amid Kyrgyzstan’s vast valleys and astonishing mountain peaks, the horse and the helicopter are kings. Lyn Hughes ventures deep into this fascinating country to experience life as a modern nomad...

A wolf! The spine-tingling call was unmistakable. At first it was distant, somewhere deep down the valley. Then, 20 minutes later, came another, much closer howl. The dogs in our camp broke into a frenzy of barking. It was 4.20am. I snuggled deeper under my blanket, but was far too pumped with adrenalin to sleep...

Read the full article

Dispatches: Old roads and hidden valleys in central China

by Leon McCarron

(Leon McCarron)

(Leon McCarron)

On a journey into China's distant centre, adventurer Leon McCarron encounters enthusiastic villagers, an unusual rice wine drinking ritual and a long tale about a scarf-wearing chicken...

No,” said Mr Hou. “You’ve misunderstood.” I tried again. “So the scarf stays on the chicken for three days?”

He shook his head. It was difficult, I protested – I wasn’t used to stories about engagement rituals involving chickens wearing scarves. “Never mind,” he said. “Let me tell you about the cucumbers instead.”

Read the full article

Meeting the Moai of Easter Island

by Jonathan Warburton-Lee

(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

Meet the people who live among the giant heads of Rapa Nui – they're even more fascinating than their archaeological heritage...

As soon as I walked into the arrivals hall, I was lassoed by a garland of exotic flowers. It was as if I’d emerged into a colourful village market in full swing. Loud and exuberant reception parties of relatives welcomed home returning islanders, and eager tour operators hawked for business.

The airport is Easter Island’s lifeline – prior to its opening in 1961, the residents lived in virtual seclusion. Supplies came once a year by Chilean naval ship, while visitors were a rarity.

 This was hardly surprising. We’d been flying over the empty canvas of the Pacific Ocean for five hours, heading ever westwards from the South American landmass, before spotting this tiny speck of land: a triangular handkerchief of rolling green, pockmarked by the dormant cones of three volcanoes and fringed by a ragged, wave-battered coast...

Read the full article

Dispatches: Freediving with Japan's ama women

by Mark Stratton

(Mark Stratton)

(Mark Stratton)

'Sea women’ have been freediving for shellfish off the coast of Osatsu for thousands of years, but the future of Japan’s ama divers is looking uncertain as a new generation fails to follow in their wake…

Resembling a sleek seal in her wetsuit, Sayuri emerged alongside her husband’s boat and swung a net filled with sea cucumbers on deck. With lithe agility she climbed on board and began examining her seafloor harvest.

Sayuri Nakamura is 67 years old. Her friend, Shigeyo Nakayama, who soon followed, is 71. They are ama (‘sea women’), Japan’s famed all-female shell divers, a tradition that dates back several thousand years. Yet most are now aged between 60 and 80 years old and, with numbers declining, it may soon be time to bid sayonara to a cultural practice shared with South Korea’s haenyeo diving women... 

Related Articles