Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Inca Trails by Martin Li

Sometimes reading a travel book can be an exhilarating experience; it doesn’t happen very often but when it does it can make your day. I have read many books of this genre in the past, since I’ve been a traveller for more than twenty-five years now, but none gave me such pleasure as Martin Li’s Inca Trails.

What I mostly liked about this book is the fact that it’s not a travel guide, but rather a travelogue. The author set out on a journey across Bolivia and Peru to retrace the ancient paths of the Incas, and during it he came to meet a lot of interesting characters, adopt a mule called Coco, taste the local cuisine, spent the nights out in the open or in dreadful lodges, and find his way across the land on packed-up buses.

Li does not, at any point, try to impress the reader, and he doesn’t seem to care if the people think that he’s brave or a coward; all he cares about is the journey, the stories he learns, and the new memories that form in his head day in day out. The people he meets, we meet as well, as he describes every character that has an important role to play in the narration in detail; the landscapes that capture his gaze, also capture ours, through his words and pictures. His journey is far from easy, but the way he describes it makes it sound so.

If I were a TV producer I’d use this book to film a series of documentaries that talk about the lands the author visited and the people he encountered, and I’d have someone narrate the history lessons he delivers as well, since this is one of those special books that can offer learning, adventure and bits and pieces of fun at the same time. I’d highly recommend it to everyone who’s not only interested in travelling, but also history and ancient civilizations.

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