Travelbloggers Fundraiser Passports with Purpose Enters Year Four

Disclaimer: I helped found this initiative and I’m hardly neutral on it. I’ll do my best to stick to the facts here but first, I’ll say this: It’s been awesome.

Passports with Purpose, the travelbloggers fundraiser, turns four this year. Founded in 2009 by four Seattle based bloggers, the initiative pulls together bloggers and travel providers (and their PR reps) to raise money for carefully vetted nonprofit causes that focus on education as a channel to alleviate poverty and improve quality of life. Oh, and there are fabulous prizes, too — for example, last year, Gadling’s Mike Barish gave away a SkyMall gift card.

This year, Passports with Purpose (PwP) is supporting Room to Read, the literacy program founded by John Wood after he’d trekked through Nepal. PwP aims to raise enough money to fund the contstruction, staffing, and provisioning of two libraries in Zambia.

In 2010, PwP raised more than $60,000 for Land for Tiller’s Freedom (LAFTI). The funds were used for construction of 25 homes for families in Southern India. PwP co-founder Beth Whitman attended the ground breaking ceremony for the village in Karrungani, Tamil Nadu. On the conclusion of last year’s fundraiser, PwP recieved this note from Peggy Burns, Exective Director of Friends of LAFTI:

We are so excited that 25 families in Karunganni will soon have a decent place to live. It is all thanks to you, your generous sponsors, and over 300 caring individuals who wanted to make this world a better place. Bravo to all of you.

In 2009, PwP raised nearly double the original goal of $13,000 and funded the construction of a school in rural Preah Vihear, Cambodia. The overage was allotted to additional services that ensure the continued success of the project. Michelle Duffy attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Passports School in March, 2011.


Passports with Purpose uses social media, blogging, and the generosity of sponsors to achieve success. Repeat sponsors for 2011 include Round the World with Us, Traveller’s Point, and HomeAway.

But it’s individual bloggers that are the key to PwP’s continued success. Bloggers who want to participate will find detailed information on the Passports with Purpose website.

Carnivore safari allows travelers to see Wild Dog of Africa

wild dog of africa safari carnivore Dog lovers now have something to be excited about. Robin Pope Safaris has recently announced a brand new safari for travel beginning on March 24, 2012, called “Carnivore Week”. This meaty tour will take place in the South Luangwa Valley of Zambia and will allow travelers to see Africa’s largest carnivores, most notably, the rare, endangered Wild Dog of Africa.

The cost of the trip is set at $3,522 per person sharing, which includes seven nights at Robin Pope Safari’s Nkwali Camp, food, all safari costs, and a donation to the Zambian Carnivore Programme. Flights, visas, and airport taxes are not included.

Aside from getting to experience the wildlife of Africa with a trained guide, travelers will also be doing something good for the animals, as Robin Pope Safaris actively works to help protect the Wild Dog of Africa and other large carnivores in this region by creating an active niche for wildlife tourism in the area. Tour guides and ecology staff from the Zambia Carnivore Programme educate safari participants on how to research large carnivores as well as collect data during excursions.

While safaris focusing on Big Cats have always been a thriving tourist attraction, Robin Pope Safaris is now giving travelers a look at the other species of large African wildlife. You can e-mail the company directly at info@robinpopesafaris.net or visit their website.

Traveler Q & A: Pavia Rosati

pavia rosatiPavia Rosati is the founder of Fathom, a recently debuted travel website. Fathom is smart and beautifully designed. It’s full of exciting short briefs about various destinations across the globe.

Rosati, as you’ll see from her answers below, is an experienced editor and an avid traveler. Her enthusiasm for Fathom’s subject matter is palpable and infectious. We love Fathom and can’t wait to see how it’s going to develop.

Q: Good day, Pavia Rosati, and welcome. How would you describe your occupation?

A: I am the founder and CEO of Fathom, a new travel website. It’s my job to help connect you to places and experiences you didn’t know you were going to love.

Q: Tell us about Fathom.

A: Fathom cuts through the clutter of the online travel space with stories and destination guides that are as practical as they are inspiring. People typically go to a travel website for one of two reasons: They know they’re going to London, and they need to know where to stay and what to do. Or they think, “I have two weeks off…I like nature…Where should I go?” Fathom addresses both needs through two main sections: Guides and Postcards. Guides have quick information about the basics: hotels, sites, restaurants, and itineraries. Postcards are inspiring travel stories organized around the passion points of travel with a “I Travel for the …” theme: I Travel for the Food, I Travel for the Thrill, I Travel for the Kids. We aren’t motivated by what’s expensive or what’s trendy. We’re interested in what’s special and what’s awesome. Sometimes that’s a three-Michelin star lunch at Le Meurice; sometimes it’s a five-euro falafel at L’As du Fallafel.

Q: What are you trying to do with Fathom that hasn’t been done by other travel sites?

A: I wanted to create the one-stop travel website that I could never find. You know how the best travel guide is the email you get from a friend who lives there, detailing what you need to do and know? That’s the spirit that motivates us. I used to spend 80 hours researching dozens of sites to boil my findings down to an essential nugget of information. Fathom aims to deliver that nugget. I don’t want to wade through a list of 200 shops in Buenos Aires; I want 20 that are amazing. I want to know what locals know. I want pre-edited links to the best articles, websites, and online resources. Perhaps most importantly, Fathom recommendations are not driven by a mega travel agency’s vast and impersonal database; our recommendations are personal and special.

Q: How do you anticipate Fathom developing? For example, will the city guides grow in number?

A: Absolutely. It’s a big world, and we want to get everywhere. Postcards are updated continually, and we will launch several new guides every month. Reader feedback will be critical: We’ve had a lot of requests for Amsterdam since launching, so look for that soon. We want more Postcards from Fathom readers, a community we call the travel-proud. This fall, we’ll launch Boutique, with our favorite travel products; Traveler Profiles, based on the popular Fathom Questionnaires; and My Itineraries, so readers can save the places they want to go.

Q: How did your decade at Daily Candy prepare you for this endeavor?

A: First and foremost, it’s where I met my partner, Jeralyn Gerba, Fathom’s editorial director. We had one priority at DailyCandy: We had to delight our readers every day. To achieve this, we had to be trustworthy, we had to recommend quality places, and we had to deliver information readers wanted in a way they wanted it. And it helped if we had a great time doing it. These are excellent editorial priorities. By the way, before DailyCandy, I spent four years running the Entertainment Channel at AOL. That taught me a thing or two about building and serving a big audience.Q: Enough shop talk. When you’re not traveling, you split your time between New York and London. Care to share a secret hometown place or activity in either metropolis?

A: My life tends to revolve around what’s in front of me at the dinner table. In New York City, the bar at Tocqueville feels like a hidden escape, and breakfast at Balthazar feels like homeroom. At the end of the day, I always want to eat everything on the menu at L’Artusi. In London, I love Del Parc in Tufnell Park (of all places!), where two men cook and serve delicious Spanish/North African small plates from a closet-sized kitchen in the middle of the tiny dining room. And I love Moro, but who doesn’t?

Q: What are your favorite places to travel?

A: Sometimes I travel to feel familiar in a foreign setting. I could spend every weekend at Lo Scoglio on the Amalfi Coast and never tire of it. Similarly, I lived in Paris in college, and going back is like visiting an old friend. Other times, I travel for the difference and the discovery. Recent revelations include desolate and dramatic Salta, in northwest Argentina, and Sri Lanka, where I spent an incredible day on Taprobane Island. I loved Syria, and I hope it can recover from its political tumult and be the great country it should be.

Q: Where are you planning to travel next? And where are you dying to go?

A: Oh, the never-ending list. The wish list for the next few months includes Lake Austin Spa, Bighorn Revelstoke, Cartagena, and Portugal’s Douro Valley. I was married last year and am hoping for an eventual honeymoon in Chile. It’s my great embarrassment that I’ve never been to Southeast Asia — Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. Zambia. Shanghai and Hong Kong. I’m obsessed with the Canadian Maritime Provinces. And in case my husband reads this, yes, honey, I’m dying to go to Tokyo, too.

Q: Where do you have no interest in ever visiting?

A: Cuba. I think I missed it. Though if an opportunity presented itself, of course I’d go. I’m curious about everything.

Q: Give us a travel tip or secret. Or five.

A: 1. Never eat airplane food. 2. You won’t use 50 percent of the stuff you’re packing, so leave it at home. 3. Find a local market to get a real flavor for a place. 4. It’s easier to go away than you think it is. And it’s always worth it. 5. I watch the sunrise on the last morning of every trip I take. I’m not suggesting that you do this; I am suggesting that you invent a travel ritual that you can share with yourself everywhere you go.

Q: What’s next for Pavia Rosati?

A: More sunrises in new places, and sharing them on Fathom.

Did you enjoy this Q&A? Check out previous Gadling Q&As with travelers like Jodi Ettenberg, Zora O’Neill, and Philippe Sibelly.

[Image: Jimmy Gilroy]

Enter the Put Foot Rally for an African road trip adventure

The Put Foot Rally promises to be quite an African adventureAdventurous travelers looking for a unique road trip this summer may want to checkout the Put Foot Rally, which is scheduled to get underway in June. The event begins in South Africa and promises to send teams on a 7000km (4350 mile) long odyssey through the wilds of Africa.

The 17-day rally will kick off at two separate starting lines, one in Cape Town and the other in Johannesburg. Once underway, competitors will navigate on their own, and are free to take any path they like, but are required to reach certain checkpoints along the way by certain times. For instance, the first checkpoint is located at the Andersson Gate, just outside Etosha Park in Namibia. How you manage to find your way to that destination is entirely up to you, but you’ll certainly want to get there on time, as each of the checkpoints will play host to a party as well.

Subsequent CP’s will be located on the Okavango Delta in Botwsana, in Livingstone, Zambia, and on the edge of Lake Malawi in Malawi. From there it is on to Inhambane in Mozambique before proceeding on to the finish line in Swaziland. All told, counting the starting and finish line, there are seven checkpoints, and seven parties, in all.

The Put Foot is accepting just 50 crews for the inaugural 2011 rally, and as of this writing they are about halfway to filling that quota. A crew can consist of as many people as you want, but they all have to fit inside one vehicle. Speaking of which, you can also drive any type of car, truck, or SUV you want, as long as it gets you to the checkpoints on time. You can even elect to ride on a motorcycle if you prefer. Organizers of the rally estimate that about 95% of the route can be done on paved roads, which means a 4×4 isn’t necessary to compete. But part of the fun will no doubt be getting off the beaten path and finding interesting ways to reach the checkpoints. Just don’t take a wrong turn and end up in a country you weren’t expecting!
While the rally is going to be great fun, and will certainly provide plenty of opportunities for amazing travel experiences, it isn’t being run just for the adventure. The Put Foot Rally organizers have joined forces with the Bobs For Good Foundation to raise funds and awareness of that charity, which focuses on providing shoes for underprivileged African children. Many of those children might not ever own any kind of footwear under normal circumstances.

If you’d like to put your own crew together and enter the Put Foot Rally, you can register for the event, which gets underway on June 22nd, by clicking here. Be warned though, this is no organized jaunt down the well marked highway. It is instead a self guided safari through some of the wildest places in Africa, and if you’re not prepared for the challenges you could find yourself in real trouble. That said however, if this sounds like your kind of adventure, the rewards could be amazing as well.

Personally, I think Team Gadling would rock this rally!

American explorer to cross Africa on foot

Explorer Julian Monroe Fisher will cross Africa on footAnthropologist, explorer, and member of the Royal Geographical Society Julian Monroe Fisher is preparing for an epic expedition that will see him cross Africa completely on foot. The journey, which is set to begin this spring, will cover more than 4000 miles, crossing the continent east to west, in an effort to raise awareness of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), an organization dedicated to removing land mines and other small arms from countries that were formerly plagued with conflict.

Julian’s adventure will get underway on April 26th of this year, when he sets out from the town of Pemba, located on the coast of Mozambique. From there, he’ll begin traveling west, crossing through miles of difficult and varying African terrain, before eventually ending in Lobito, Angola, which falls along that country’s Atlantic coast. Along the way, he’ll pass through the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, and Malawi as well.

No stranger to long distance travel, Monroe spent much of his time on the road between 1996 and 2003, crossing through more than 90 countries on five different continents. He has written two books about his travels and was an early adopter when it came to writing about his adventures on the web as well. Last year, he even opened an anthropological research station in the Bunkeye Cultural Village, located in the DRC, which this expedition will help raise funds for too.

This 4000 mile journey is sure to be an amazing adventure to follow, and Julian will be posting updates to his Facebook page along the way. But what he really hopes to do is draw attention to the amazing work that MAG is doing in countries across the planet in helping them to remove old land mines, un-exploded missiles, mortars, grenades, and other small arms that have been left behind following a major conflict. The organization operates throughout Africa and South East Asia, where it saves lives and limbs simply by doing away with old weapons that still litter the landscape.

For me personally, Africa remains my favorite destination, and traveling on foot is truly a unique way to see the continent and interact with its people. I’m sure that this will be quite the adventure when Julian and his team get underway in a few months time.