adventure travel

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“The Blind Traveller,” as James Holman was known. Hulton Archive // Getty Images

“World’s Greatest Traveller”

“He had eyes in his mouth, eyes in his nose, eyes in his ears, and eyes in his mind”

– William Jerdan

James Holman, was hailed as one of the ‘greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored’. He was known simply as the Blind Traveller—a solitary, sightless adventurer who fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon and helped chart the Australian outback. Once a celebrity, a bestselling author and inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the charismatic, witty James Holman outlived his fame, dying in an obscurity.  Holman travelled a whopping quarter of a million miles in his lifetime – further than anyone had ever travelled before. It was a record that stood well into the twentieth century. And he did it, incredibly, despite being totally blind.

British adventurer and writer James Holman (1786-1857) became totally and permanently blind at the age of 25. He not only accepted his new condition but also coped with it with remarkable confidence and unwavering self-belief. In his lifetime, he is said to have covered more than 2,50,000 miles through five continents and 200 distinct cultures. As one historian points out, “Holman trekked deep into Siberia, sailed to Brazil, rode through Southern Africa, explored unmapped parts of Australia, and survived the bandit-infested Balkans.”
As interestingly, he tapped his way along the crumbling rim of a Vesuvian volcano, even as clouds of sulphurous gases billowed all around.
Holman joined the British Navy at the age of 12 and rose to become a lieutenant, before being physically afflicted and eventually losing his sight. How he undertook his daring travels across the globe with an iron-tipped stick; how he meticulously documented the many people and cultures that came along his way; how his travels and books earned him short-lived fame; and how he began receding in public memory, unjustly neglected in his own time and ending his days in penury…these are all part of the extraordinary life story of James Holman.
Holman began his ‘Grand Tour’ in 1819 and in the next couple of years, he had covered France, Italy, Switzerland, parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1822, he ambled through parts of Russia, before returning home via Austria, Saxony, Prussia and Hanover. His travels between 1827 and 1832 across many countries resulted in the publication of A Voyage Round the World, including travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, etc. His last journeys took him to Spain, Portugal, Moldavia, Montenegro, Syria and Turkey.

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Laos boasts beautiful nature that is still largely untouched by tourists and travelers. Inthy Deuansavan hopes to use sustainable and adventure travel to help put Laos on traveler’s SE Asian itineraries. An adventurer since he was young, Inthy is one of Laos’ premier entrepreneurs, with restaurants and hotels to go along with Green Discovery. To explore the pristine nature of Laos, check out Green Discovery: greendiscoverylaos.com/