Uncharted Backpacker

Travel Knows No Borders

Stephen Gollan; Travel photographer/blogger, travelling the uncharted parts of the world, exploring the culture, cuisines and natural wonders to get you the latest travel updates.

Cuban Cigars and Horseback Riding in Viñales, Cuba

Viñales, Cuba

A haze of sweet smoke surrounds me as I begin my journey through lush and pristine scenery in search for the perfect cigar. Eventually the smoke clears and I am back in reality but still, I find it hard to stop myself from reminiscing on Vinales. Even for the most jaded of travelers, this dreamlike destination will not disappoint. When the first tobacco producers began to cultivate this land, I doubt they understood that one day this would be a traveler’s paradise. The sweet smell of cigar fills my nose and I find myself puffing the last of my perfect cigar. My steed takes me back to the tobacco plantations passing by limestone ridges etched with caves, Cuban cowboys rolling cigars, and one stunning vista after another. It was hard to believe that I had never thought of coming here before. Read More

A Traveler in Sana’a, Yemen – Sana’a Guide

Sana’a, Yemen

Nowhere has ever captured old Arabia like Sana’a. The smell of spices and meat cooking over charcoal in the old city souq, the enchanting melody of the call to prayer encompasses you as it rings out in every direction, locals prefer to wear turbans and the abiyah compared to western fashion. Sana’a will with no doubt take you to that Lawrence of Arabia dream you fantasize about. A city with such deep historical significance retains all its character despite the current circumstances. Now it’s not uncommon to hear airstrikes alongside the call to prayer, locals swapping their traditional outfits for military gear, and the entire city cut off from electricity and water; but politics and war aside, Sana’a still retains its charming self, a true authentic traveler’s paradise. Read More

Learning to Surf in North Korea

Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korea the next big surfing destination! No, these are not headlines you are likely to hear anytime soon. But the fact is, there is Surfing in North Korea. Not just for those privileged to make their way into the hermit nation of Asia. North Korean’s themselves are beginning to take notice of this sport. Something unheard of in the past. Not only surfing but stand up paddleboards as well! There is so much more to this mysterious country than meets the eye. After two weeks gallivanting around the country, I can finally say tell you that the Uncharted Backpacker surfed for the very first time… In North Korea! Read More

Journey through Yemen – Yemen’s War and Travel

Sanaa Yemen
What brings a traveler to places like this? Is it the desire to be so far from other travelers and achieve an authentic experience, or is it the thrill of stepping into the forbidden and unknown corners of the world?

When it comes to Yemen, I found my attraction drawn from its plethora of historical sights and its splendid natural beauty. But if I am to be one hundred percent honest with you the tremendous lure in coming to conflict areas like Yemen are the people. Yemen’s people are unlike anywhere I have ever been. Their hospitality is contagious, they smile even when there are airstrikes happening blocks away and no matter who you are, or what you believe in, they will be your lifelong friend.

This is what makes all the pain, all the danger, and all of the after effects worthwhile in venturing into finding the truth for yourself. This is Yemen, true Arabia.
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The Mount Kailash Kora – Tibet

Ngari, Mount Kailash, Tibet

A place so tranquil yet powerful, Mount Kailash contradicts itself. As you labour one foot after another, oxygen deprived and lost in a sea of emotions, just as pilgrims for thousands of years have done, in the exact same fashion. This journey will change you, after traversing the entire Kora around the worlds most holy mountain you become a part of it. A chapter of this mountains story. Finally, when the air becomes so thin that I fear I’m at my breaking point, I look up, I have arrived. A scene of what heaven must look like, Mount Kailash’s highest point the Drolma-la pass. Here time stands still, pausing for a sigh of relief, its hard not to connect with it all, never has a moment like this brought me so far into the depths of my mind. This is the Mount Kailash Kora. Read More

Cuba Travel Guide

Cuba Travel Guide 

Cuba is a country often overlooked as a backpacking traveling destination, ask anyone who has delved into this island nation and you will hear otherwise. From the dilapidated colorful neighbourhoods of Havana old town, tobacco farmers pushing their ox cart and plough beneath behemoth Limestone Mountains in Vinales, the stunning white sand and blue waters of Veradero, or the picturesque hill top colonial town of Trinidad; Cuba is without a doubt one of my favourite travel locations! Never has a destination captured its culture with a symphony of music, artistic style and hospitality quite like Cuba. So if you are ready for something new, surprising and wonderful dive into Cuba, you will not be disappointed. Read More

Hiking Ganden to Samye Monastery – Tibet

Ganden and Samye Monastery, Tibet

The high altitude mountain trails bend and twist their way above the clouds. From one vast starkly beautiful valley to another, the trail takes you by frigid glacial lakes and impossibly high mountain peaks. Sometimes the valleys are dotted with yaks and their owners who live in primitive black tents made of yak wool, but for the most part its just you and raw nature. With its deeply spiritual, and intensely alluring culture; this is Tibet at its most authentic. Hiking between these two monasteries is one of Tibet’s greatest passages, a journey that has been preformed for centuries. Prepare to connect deeply with Tibet and its history as you follow in the footsteps of countless Tibetan pilgrims and explorers before you! Read More

A Photographers Journey into North Korea – Remote Coasts, Buddhist Temples and the DMZ

North Korea

One week into my North Korean journey I have explored Pyongyang’s vibrant districts and small mountain villages in the nation’s interior. Next on our schedule is to drive to Hamhung, Majon, and Wonsan to photograph the remote coastal regions of North Korea. These regions are famed for their deserted white sand beaches, and small fishing communities. From the Coast, my journey took me into the controversial DMZ, and finally back into the mountains to hike to Buddhist temples at Mt Myohyangsan. North Korea is quite the epic adventure!
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North Korea Photos You’ve Probably Never Seen – Pyongyang and the Country Side

North Korea

Landing into Pyongyang airport after all of the hype and nervous tension you abruptly realise where you are, the nation that is constantly flashed in the media, talked about in political debates, and known as the most secretive nation on earth. It’s quite overwhelming finally being in North Korea, but I can quite honestly say, it was one of the most exciting moments in my entire travel career. My goal for the next twelve days was to photograph as much of the people, history, architecture, and culture of North Korea as possible. This post is dedicated to the more unseen sides of North Korea, no not missile testing and dubious media jaunts, this post is for those who seek to see the real and authentic side of North Korea. Read More

The Road to Everest – Everest Base Camp, Tibet

Tsang Region, Tibet

Left breathless from the altitude you open your eyes to a surreal scene of rolling sand dunes, pristine blue lakes, and seemingly impossible mountains. As your heart struggles and labours after each beat, and the sky turns black you believe you’ve made it to Shangri La itself. When you come to, and everything becomes clear again its apparent that your still on the road, the long, bumpy, high altitude, and incredibly beautiful road to Everest. A journey to Tibet’s Everest Region is not to be taken lightly however, it’s a rugged exhibition, but those who endure it are rewarded with the riches that Tibet has to offer! Read More