Home >mint-lounge >features >Ends of the earth: the expedition issue

Travel, once, was grand. Long before there were “Dream Vacations" and “Quick Escapes", parcelled into annual holidays and bracketed by weekends, there were quests and expeditions, grand voyages to the ends of the earth, to the middle of it, around it. These were journeys in the original sense, filled with risk and hardship, but equal amounts of wonder and exhilaration. There was a spirit of discovery, a taste for the unknown, the possibility of adventure. Before “off-the-beaten-track" became the neighbourhood tour operator’s favourite promise to make, seafarers, mountaineers, tramps and trekkers—travelling for God, Queen or Conquest (or simply on a wager or a whim)—made travel epic.

That kind of travel seems less and less possible, if not altogether foolish to contemplate. Partly because the farthest points of the earth can be reached well within the week, and the impossibility of getting lost even in the strangest places, thanks largely to GPS, but in part also because we seem to have relinquished the idea of travel as an activity unto itself. For so many of us, it has become a “break", a thing we do between other things, real things. It is only when we hear of people like Sarah Marquis, who decided to walk 20,000km on foot, by herself, making the journey from Siberia to Australia, taking the full span of three years, or Felix Baumgartner, who famously soared to the edge of space, to jump—it is only then that we remember that the idea of travel has always been more expansive.

And so, in this issue, we celebrate the epic; if not in scale and ambition, then in spirit. These are stories of expeditions, of people on a quest, of travel grander than a vacation. From a mission to save migratory whales in Antarctica to slow travels through the deep desert of India; from a sea voyage to the Great Nicobar Island in the aftermath of a tsunami, to a road trip from Munich to Mumbai, via Siberia; from travels in a remote village of Greenland, to a lifetime spent in the wild.

And more. Come along.

—Abhijit Dutta
Issue Editor

The key to the Silk Road

Chasing down the northern lights

Journey to the last ocean

The ship to Nicobar

Munich to Mumbai, Via Siberia

Desert rain; bewitched river

Into the wild

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