Have Brain, Will Travel
By Andrew Belonsky
In his 2010 novel In a Strange Room, South African author Damon Galgut writes, “A journey is a gesture inscribed in space, it vanishes even as it's made. You go from one place to another place, and on to somewhere else again, and already behind you there is no trace that you were ever there.” That's a pretty nihilistic assessment of travel, but sadly all too accurate for journeymen who use travel as simple tourism. Successful trips require a balance between adventure and authenticity, both of which are far too hard to find on well-trodden trails.
That's a lesson Eric Monkaba learned during his nine years as a guide in the Middle East with his company, Backpacker Concierge, which curates travel experiences for corporate and larger groups. Still, he wanted to send travelers on an more immersive and unique experience, particularly when it comes to gay travel, which too often revolves more around nightlife revelry than bona fide real-world exposure. He wanted travelers to have a different type of hands-on experiences.
To bridge that gap, and further meld cultures, Monkaba started Anazure, a company specializing in tailor-made trips for the "intellectually curious traveler."
Rather than just dancing the night away in Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik, you'll take a dog sled out into the snow fields. You can tour Katmandu with the city's first openly gay politician or dine with a Peruvian gay activist in his home. Traveling with your kids? Monkaba plans trips appropriate for adventurers of all ages.
"We combine offbeat destinations with commitments to refined adventure, thoughtful immersion, responsible tourism and stellar customer service," says Monkaba, who left his job as an advertising executive nearly a decade ago to explore the world and broaden his horizons. "Each experience goes beyond the traditional cookie-cutter travel package to meet individual's desires keeping in mind an emphasis on personal safety and the impact on the local community."
There's even room for travelers to participate in community service while abroad, which is perhaps the best way to guarantee your journey remains with you, and with the host community, even after you leave.
Still not convinced Anazure's what you're looking for? Check out these pictures from some of Monkaba's previous adventures in China, Nepal, Turkey, Iceland, and Jordan.
Northern Lights above Reykjavik, Iceland
Kota Kinabalu, Borneo
Yunnan Province, China
White Desert, Egypt