I had dreamt about this continent for almost 15 years. So much I heard, so much I read and saw in pictures. I was connected to South America. Through friends. Through my university Spanish teachers. I can’t believe I put off coming here for so long.
Boyacá. Beautiful, mountainous. The climate is cool, there aren’t mosquitoes and, it’s safe. Or at least there isn’t someone always telling you to watch your back, as happens almost everywhere else in Colombia.
Colombia is a fascinating country. It’s geographically diverse. Spectacular in parts. Better yet, Colombians are some of the most soulful, warm and well-humoured people I’ve been around. I’ve come to love it here.
Dramatic scenery. A sense of history, sometimes mystery. The friendliness of so many strangers I interacted with. These are the things that first come to mind when I remember my journey through Georgia and Armenia.
Exploring the unknown is exhilarating. Anybody with even a slight sense of adventure relishes the chance to get off the beaten track. Away from the masses, from the censored, postcard reality. I’m obsessed with getting off the beaten track.
It’s early in the morning. The rays of the rising sun peek through the window of my Landrover’s roof-tent. Far in the distance I can make out the sounds of sheep, cows and their herders screaming at them. Did they go in a different direction to what I expected last evening?
It felt like going back in time. A strangely familiar sensation. Soviet cars everywhere, clearly still from Soviet times. I hadn’t seen so many since I was a child back in the USSR. And then there were ruins of ancient monasteries and fortresses. Every few kilometres I’d come across more ruins. Familiar and at the same time – mysterious. This was my first impression of Armenia.
A remote region of high mountains, pristine nature, ancient villages and... one of the most dangerous roads in the world to get there. That’s what I knew about Tusheti. Oh, and there was supposed to be a cultural festival too.
"Bakhmaro, that’s a place you have to go to. Go there! Remember the name." These were the words of my landlord and neighbour in Tbilisi. He saw my enthusiasm for traveling around Georgia and started remembering all the beautiful places around his country.
Considered the highest all-year-round inhabited settlement in Europe, Ushguli seats at about 2,100 metres above sea level. In every direction there are snow-clad mountain peaks, even during the middle of summer.
After years on the road I’ve realised – it's rare that a place is ever as good as everyone says it is. Even more rare that it exceeds what you heard. Georgia however has been one of those places.
Belarus is a country that few people outside of Europe know. There are not many reasons for an outsider to know it, to be totally honest. As for me, it’s where I was born.
Travel. Those who love it swear that they can keep traveling for years at a time without settling down. For the past decade or so, this is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve traveled somewhere for about 9-10 months each year.
It was one of my most challenging journeys. But it was also one of the most fascinating. Ethiopia – the mountainous province of Tigray. Ancient churches carved in rock. Impossible locations. Traditions that go back over one thousand years. Another world. It seems like a dream today.
Imagine you're asked to photograph at one of your favourite destinations. It's for a company you really like. You get to use a camera that’s not even released yet and you’re given plenty of creative freedom. On top of everything, you get paid well too.
To immerse myself in the luscious, green mountain scenery just one more time. To experience the worry free small-town-life. My journey through Colombia was winding down and this is what I wanted to do before leaving.
Surprising. That’s the main word that comes to mind when I reflect on Colombia. Of course this may have to do with my own ignorance and the ignorance of much of the rest of the world, really. When we hear Colombia, rarely do we associate it with a desert by the sea...
There are places that everyone tells you to avoid and there are places that EVERYONE tells you to go to. So far I’d been mostly visiting the “don’t go there places” in Colombia and had a great time. Over the years I've found that to generally be the case.
It’s where the sun was born, the heart of the world, the most sacred of places for the Arhuaco people. Of course I wanted to visit! The place is a remote, traditional village in the Sierra Nevada mountains called Nabusimake.
Despite all the warnings of the impossible roads and the supposedly dangerous locals I made it to La Punta Gallinas and, I loved it. With the years I've come to appreciate the remoteness of places like these. There's something special in getting away from the masses, from the traffic and the noise.