"Darren has a desire to learn, but not just from books, he wants to touch, smell, taste, hear and see the world. He loves interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures and likes the challenge of getting to remote and unusual places. He is an outgoing and confident traveler that is always looking to take a step beyond the norm, often leaving him to face bizarre and unusual situations. Darren's blog has proven to be a big hit on the Internet and many people have requested that he write a book about the places he has visited together with the bizarre and unusual situations that he has found himself in" (ONET Polish Travel & Entertainment Magazine/Website , www.onet.pl, 14th March 2009).
MY WEBSITE: http://thetravelspirit.wordpress.com/
- Referenced in Aug/Sep US National Geographic Magazine (2 pages!!!!)
- Telephone interviewed National Geographic.
- ONET published my photos and blogs!
- EUfrika published my photos!
- Prochlapa Czech men's magazine requested to translate and publish my blogs
- Assisted CNN write a story about people that travel potentially dangerous places.
- My 'Lost City' Blog used for USA graduate level course in RAFT writing strategy.
- Recommended by OneYearOff.Net as 'Inspiring Travel Blog'
- Received a photography reward from Travelblog.org
- Entered into travel writers hall of Fame, TravelBlogs highest accolade, beating 300,000 Bloggers!
Quickly approaching 65,000 visitors to my blog!
Responded to over 800 emails on 'How To' travel advice.
Regularly post travel advice on the Lonely Planet Thorntree
Accumulated Time On the Road: 34 Months
(Wish I had written blogs for my first 12 months!)
My Countries; Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt....
JUST COMPLETED CAPE TO CAIRO OVERLAND ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION - SOLO!
February 12th 2012
Did you know some of the oldest pyramids in the world are in Sudan? How about volcanic landscapes, unexcavated tombs and sand swept temples? With the dunes of the Nubian Desert reclaiming archeological sites and petrified forests before your eyes, you soon find yourself on an Indiana Jones adventure, hunting for lost treasures and exploring the final frontier. A frontier of secret chambers and hidden passages. A frontier of lost cities and ancient civilizations. A frontier of national treasures lost in the sands of time. As pyramid after pyramid scatter the sand swept deserts of Sudan, archeological treasures emerge from the dunes like rocks breaking through a powerful tide. With temples half submerged in sand and unexplored tombs rising above the dunes, locals don’t seem to realize their importance. Free to explore, you can’t help but ... read more
January 25th 2012
No one really knew what was going to happen. Were the military going to unleash a violent force crushing the revolutionists? or was it going to be a day of celebration? Were the Muslim Brotherhood and Liberals going to clash in the streets? or were they going to unite, forcing an end to emergency controls? As the people of Egypt prepared for another standoff with their military dictatorship, many feared for the worst as unprecedented numbers gathered in Tahrir Square, demonstrating, sending shock waves around the world. "CAIRO - Tens of thousands of Egyptians rallied Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the country's 2011 uprising, with liberals and Islamists gathering on different sides of Cairo's Tahrir Square in a reflection of the deep political divides that emerged in the year since the downfall of longtime ... read more
January 8th 2012
They held her down, chained her up and pored holy water over her naked body. Screaming and shouting she violently reacted showing the devil in her eyes. In fear of the priest and talking backwards, a demonic voice emerges. You begin to feel a powerful presence sending shock-waves to your core. Standing amidst the Christian underworld you witness an ancient tradition few outsiders have seen before. The Christian Orthodox Exorcism. "An Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed. Depending on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, or simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power" (Wikipedia, January 2012) You ... read more
December 27th 2011
You live in Somalia where law and order is collapsing around you, a country where warlords and terrorists preach hate against your moderate values and beliefs. A country consumed by war and piracy in which you want no part, a country failing to provide the basic services that you need. Crippled by corruption and poverty, you look for a way out, a distant land rising from the rubble, a shining light amidst the political darkness, a glimmer of hope in the horn of Africa. That future is Somaliland. Mogadishu is the corrupt capital for the failed state of Somalia, a place where pirates and terrorists rule. The Fund for Peace has ranked Somalia number one according to its ‘Failed States Index’. Yet to the north, the breakaway region of Somaliland is stable and at peace. Un-recognized ... read more
December 9th 2011
You scratch another flea byte as you head deeper into the Danakil Depression. As the temperature exceeds 47°c sweat pores down your face saturating you stinking clothes. Choking on toxic fumes you study the alien landscape while you pass turquoise lakes and blinding white salt pans. For a moment you feel a sense of vulnerability as your mind drifts back to the 2007 kidnappings. Losing your concentration you fall once again as a frozen lava chamber gives way beneath your feet. Suddenly Afar nomads surround the expedition team and the real adventure begins. Under the protection of the Ethiopian army, you drive in a convoy for security. With the recent infiltration by Eritrea terrorists and temporary closure of the Danakil Depression, you remain vigilant while Ethiopian soldiers scout the region, remaining on high alert. “Those who ... read more
November 28th 2011
Painted in white and wearing animal skins. Decorated with bones and walking on stilts. Carrying spears and wondering naked. You have been transported back in time. A time when the first adventurers stumbled across African tribes. A time when food was gathered by painted warriors, a time when only the strongest survived. Intimidated into paying a bribe for a bogus guide you head deeper into the Omo valley trusting only your driver. As an Ethiopian soldier jumps in the vehicle to offer protection, you can’t help but laugh at the poor state of his AK47. Carrying no bullets and speaking only Americ, he sits and smiles, expecting payment for his services. Driving through mountain terrain and stunning fields, its hard to believe you are in Ethiopia. A country that once struggled to feed its people. A ... read more
November 1st 2011
Is walking into the world’s most dangerous city something to be proud of? How about walking into the middle of a conflict zone? Why not hire Congolese soldiers and climb on one of the world’s most deadly volcanoes? Sod it, why not camp in a war-torn area next to a lava lake? It sounds extreme, almost insane, but it is all a load of hellfire and brimstone to me. “Nyiragongo is a two-mile-high volcano towering over the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—one of the world’s most active volcanoes. When? Is the question that haunts a team of Congolese Seismologists; when will Nyiragongo erupt?” (Finkle, 2011, National Geographic) Arriving in Kigali (Rwanda) and hearing about the possibility of visiting an active and deadly volcano strangely appealed. Realizing the volcanic creator contains the ... read more
October 28th 2011
As you pass a United Nations sniper tower, a truck loaded with mercenary’s thunders past holding rocket launchers, machetes and AK47′s. While political activists rally for the looming elections, Congolese soldiers dressed like Rambo carry mounted machine guns to protect road blocks around the city. With armoured vehicles at every intersection, and police patrolling the streets, helicopter gunships hover above watching your every move. Attempting to enter a conflict zone on a tourist visa is surreal, the fact that it is even possible a mind-blowing experience. Realizing that the British Foreign Office has travel restrictions in place invalidating your insurance policy the reality. With tourist visa #479 it quickly becomes clear that only Non Government Organisations and the most intrepid travellers dare visit the Kivu province in the Eastern Congo. Delayed at the Gisenyi border ... read more
October 12th 2011
"Whatever you do, don't run if a Gorilla Charges at you" are the last words you remember hearing as your life flashes before your eyes. As everyone falls back, you are left standing motionless, adrenaline pumping, wide-eyed, the leader of the pack. "Crouch down & look away!" you hear, as 230Kg of Silverback muscle charges towards you. Close enough to smell its breath, you can’t help but stare into its eyes as the fight or flight syndrome kicks in. "Screw this" is your final thought as you run through the bushes and towards the trees. People screaming, guides shouting, everyone running caught up in a perfect moment of chaos. A moment that somehow manages to slow down time. Back in the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, you run through a drill that had clearly been rehearsed to perfection. ... read more
October 6th 2011
As a truck thunders towards you, you soon realize you are in a game of chicken. In a country where the largest vehicle has right of way, the Boda-boda hits his horn, swerving into oncoming traffic. You close your eyes and pray, hoping to escape with your life. On entering Kampala you are amazed to see complete mayhem on the roads. As thousands of motorbikes swerve in and out of traffic you realize the road rules are simple. Larger vehicles have right of way, unless of-course you are a fearless Boda-boda driver. As you climb on-board your Boda-boda with sixty litre backpack, day-pack and tent, you struggle to balance on the back of the motorbike. As the driver takes you through potholes, between trucks, and across sidewalks, you learn why five people die in road accidents ... read more