Black Tomato launches Epic Tomato, an ambitious new adventure offshoot

For years Black Tomato has delighted old travel hands with its inventive, bespoke itineraries to various corners of the globe. The company is especially good at showcasing beautiful destinations not yet well-known to most travelers beyond the surrounding region. Among others, Belgrade, the Carpathian foothills, the Kuronian Spit, and Bhutan have all been embraced by the company.

This morning, Black Tomato launched Epic Tomato, which showcases a selection of hardcore adventure experiences to very hard-to-reach places. These adventures are scheduled for lengths of between four to 21 days, and are grouped into five categories: Polar, Desert, Jungle, Mountain, and River. They are all led by serious expert guides, some with SAS (British special service) military backgrounds.

Bolivia’s Apolobamba mountain range, Mali’s Dogon region, the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea (see above), the Mosquito Coast of Honduras, and East Greenland are just a few of the destinations reached by Epic Tomato tours.

Epic Tomato’s frankly epic experiences don’t come cheap. At the bottom end of the scale, three adventures come in at £5995 ($9660): 14 days in Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain and Duke of York Islands; a 21-day trek in Tibet and Nepal; and eight days in Chilean Patagonia. At the very high end: 12 days on Canada’s Ellesmere Island for £67,495 ($108,720).

Papua New Guinea: Land of 800 languages

In the above map, conceived by Swedish linguist Mikael Parkvall, each country’s area is proportional to the number of languages it has produced. The map, which appears in Parkvall’s fascinating book Limits of Language, is accompanied by the following caption:

Languages are very unevenly distributed among the countries of the world. The map tries to capture this fact by rendering each country in a size corresponding to the number of languages spoken in it… The ten shaded countries are those in which more than 200 languages are in use.

So why does Papua New Guinea have so many indigenous languages? Deep valleys and unforgiving terrain have kept the different tribes of Papua New Guinea relatively isolated, so that the groups’ languages are not blended together but remain distinct. While the country is thought to have over 800 living languages, some, like Abaga, are spoken by as few as five(!) people.

Check out the Amazon reviews of Limits of Language here. An entertaining excerpt from one reader’s glowing recommendation:

I’ve never smoked crack, but reading this book approximates what I imagine it would feel like — an initial rush of pure pleasure, followed by the irresistible craving for just one more bump, yielding to that craving over and over until – six hours later – you find yourself surrounded by cats not fed, laundry not done, unwashed dishes, unpaid bills, and yet you still can’t stop yourself. You want more.

Gadlinks for Monday 9.14.09

In keeping with the Weird America theme today on Gadling, here are some weird travel reads for you, this glorious fall (it is fall, right?) Monday.

‘Til tomorrow, have a great evening!

More Gadlinks HERE.

Explorers discover ‘lost world’ in Papua New Guinea

A team of explorers from the U.S. and Britain, along with locals from Papua New Guinea, recently descended into the volcanic crater of Mount Bosavi, where they discovered a “lost world” with a host of new species that have been evolving in isolation for thousands of years. The crater is more than a kilometer deep and three kilometers across, and lacks the major predators that are often common in rainforests around the globe. The result, is that many creatures were able to adapt to living side by side in an environment that remains nearly completely cut off from the outside world.

In the five weeks that the explorers and scientists were in the crater they found a wealth of interesting creatures, including kangaroos that live in trees, a new type of bat, and a fish that makes grunting noises. They also discovered 16 new species of frogs, including one with a set of fangs, as well as a new breed of rat that my now hold the record as the largest in the world.

The scientists on the expedition were surprised and amazed at these discoveries, and are now making renewed calls for the preservation of rainforests across the planet. The amount of new species they found in just five weeks makes you wonder what else is out there, still hidden in the jungles, that we don’t know anything about. There is still a lot of this world left to explore and plenty of new things to discover, despite what we might think.

Naked Nomad presumed dead; left multi-million dollar estate

Let’s set this straight. According to hard evidence I have gathered, Victor Flanagan, an Australian also known as “Naked Nomad,” didn’t walk around naked all the time. He wore a sarong when walking through towns and a pair of thongs for when there were too many prickles on the road. Sellout.

He spent at least the last decade living in Papua New Guinea, where he walked from Australia sometime in the 1990s. And, he was found dead lying in a canoe – without any clothing — in a PNG jungle, reports.

Last week, more than a decade after he last spoke to his sister, the Supreme Court in Perth declared Naked Nomad “presumed dead”. This is a relevant piece of information because he left all his property–primarily the multi-million dollar beachfront property near Busselton–to his sister. Flanagan had inherited the property after their father’s death but didn’t have much use for it since he primarily just wanted to be in touch with nature and spend his life walking around naked.

Naked Nomad really isn’t that different from multimillionaires, after all. Multi-million beach front property is only fun if you can do nothing all day, but walk around naked.


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