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Novel Adventures: Books Inspiring Adventure Travel

Go Where a Great Book Takes You
By Beth Garcia

A great book offers more than just a departure from everyday life and a mindless way to pass time. Wonderfully written pieces bring readers close to the experiences, emotions and extraordinary adventures of the novels' protagonists.

Whether they are trekking through the Alaskan wilderness or climbing the steepest trails to lost Asian cities, these novel adventurers not only entertain readers, but bring out the explorer in all of us. Those needing inspiration for their next daring adventure, look no further than these rousing, travel-inspiring tales of adventure travel.

"Into the Wild" by John Krakauer
Where: America's West Coast, Alaska Wilderness
When: 1990-92

Alaskan Mountains
Alaskan Mountains

"Into the Wild" follows the true story of 24-year-old Christopher McCandless, a young American man who sets out into the North American wilderness after graduating college in the early 90s.

The heartbreaking story chronicles McCandless as in 1990, at the age of 22, he donates his life saving to charity and takes off for a solo adventure, covering areas of California, South Dakota, Mexico and the Alaskan wilderness.

After harrowing adventures crossing the Mexico-U.S. border and canoeing the Colorado River, McCandless takes off on Stampede Trail in Alaska with several pounds of rice, a .22 caliber rifle and few supplies. The wildly descriptive story tells just how McCandless fights to survive in the barren Alaskan wilderness among the animals and minimal flora. However, the story begins and ends in tragedy in 1992, when McCandless' body is found inside a run-down bus, beaten by the odds and expansiveness of the Alaskan rough country.

"Seven Years in Tibet" by Heinrich Harrer
Where: Lhasa, Tibet; Northern India
When: 1939-51

Tibetan Hillside
Tibetan Hillside

Mountaineer Heinrich Harrer chronicles his seven years living in the colorfully sacred city of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, serving as close confident and friend to the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. The autobiographical account of those years during World War II follows the Austrian and his mountaineering partner Peter Aufschnaiter as they are imprisoned while trekking in Northern India in 1939.

The two eventually escape in 1944 to nearby Tibet, finding their way across the mountainous landscape of the Asian country to its hidden capital. The book details the rich and vivid beauty of Lhasa, with its religious trappings and colorful customs. As Harrer finds himself becoming close friends with the young Dalai Lama, the former mountaineer remains immersed in the traditional Asian community until 1950 when the Communist Chinese invasion prompts his departure.

"Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen
Where: Nairobi, Kenya
When: 1914-31

African Wildlife
African Wildlife

Penned by Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke as Dinesen, "Out of Africa" paints vivid images of the vast land of Nairobi, Kenya and its native farming communities during the 20s and 30s. As European settlers like the baroness make their way to the untouched Eden of Africa, two cultures collide along the wild landscape.

The baroness makes her living as a farmer, connecting with the native African tribes and other westerners like big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, who have escaped to Kenya's pure, animal-covered land void of modernization. The baroness' account of her African lifestyle brings new ideas to those searching for their next African safari. "Out of Africa" shows readers the best way to experience to beauty and heartache of the African landscape is to share life with the ever-changing countryside.

"The Motorcycle Diaries" by Ernesto Guevara de la Sema

Where: South America
When: 1952

Peru Roadside
Peru Roadside

This autobiographical story follows the young Ernesto Guevara de la Sema and his friend Alberto Grando during their first Latin American expedition as they travel the South American countryside on a 1939 Norton 500 motorcycle. Guevara — who would later be known as the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara — leaves Buenos Aires, Argentina a semester before finishing medical school to travel to Caracas, Venuzula and into Peru where he and Grando volunteer at the San Pablo leper colony.

"The Motorcycle Diaries" not only gives readers a view of the roadways and trails throughout South America, but a look into the beginnings of the political views and moral precepts that carried Guevara through this revolutionary years in Cuba.