This year has been one of storytelling for Culture Trip, as our Travel Editors have flown around the world—from Colombia to South Africa—in pursuit of their next headline.
Whether retracing a family murder in Colombia, investigating how South Africa can save its wildlife from poachers or answering difficult questions like what airlines are doing about on-board sexual assault, the following stories inspire, challenge and explore the world of travel and all it encompasses. These 10 articles from our Travel Editors, Nikki Vargas and Alex Jordan, are our best travel articles of the year for both their prose and passion.
Retracing a Family Murder in Colombia
Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of its violent past, Colombia’s historic decision to sign a peace deal with the FARC has promised to usher in a new era of peace. For Travel Editor Nikki Vargas, the momentous treaty stirred up memories of a mysterious family murder that she had always blamed FARC for. Deciding to go investigate the murder herself, our Travel Editor flew to Colombia to learn more about her ill-fated great aunt, meet with an ex-guerilla from the FARC and understand what the FARC peace deal means for the country she was born in.
South Africa’s Wildlife Is Under Threat and This Might Be the Only Way to Save It
South African wildlife faces a huge threat from poachers, with the rise in demand for ivory increasing every year. Travel Editor Alex Jordan traveled to South Africa’s Kwandwe reserve to explore how private game reserves just might be the answer to saving Africa’s animals from being killed off.
The Ultimate Road Trip to Iceland’s West Fjords
In recent years, Iceland has grabbed the spotlight and become a coveted destination for travelers to visit. Thanks to affordable airfare and easy layovers for Europe-bound travelers, it has never been easier to cross a trip to Reykjavik off the bucket list. Most Iceland trips are devastatingly similar: the same Icelandic hot dogs enjoyed by the Reykjavik Marina, the same tourist trail to the Golden Circle taking in Vík, Jökulsárlón and Selfoss. To explore a side of Iceland not often seen, our Travel Editor ventured on a father-daughter road trip to the country’s West Fjords far off the tourist trail.
Why Don’t Airlines Know How to Deal with Sexual Assault on Flights?
This year, horrific tales of sexual harassment have snagged headlines as emboldened women continue to come forward across a plethora of industries—from film to politics—to reveal the identities of their assaulters. The news has caused long overdue introspection, including in the world of travel where airlines are re-evaluating how they handle on-board sexual assault cases. In this story, Alex Jordan investigates how airlines are tackling this difficult issue head-on.
Dog Meat is Showing Up On More Menus Across Bali
Home to scenic beaches, rolling rice paddies and a colorful culture, Bali is widely regarded to be paradise for many travelers. In this story, Nikki Vargas traveled to the small Indonesian island to explore a darker side of Bali that often goes unnoticed: the dog meat trade. Unbeknown to many, more than 70,000 dogs are slaughtered in Bali each year, many of which end up on the plates of unwitting tourists. Meeting with the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), Culture Trip spent an afternoon with dogs rescued from restaurant cages to shine a light on the blatant animal abuse happening under travelers’ noses.
Who Do You Think You Are? The Rise of DNA Travel
“Taking a DNA test taught me that the big decisions that have led to who I am today weren’t taken by me, but by those who came before me—starting with my parents and going back thousands of years,” wrote Alex Jordan in his article about DNA travel. In a story that both challenges preconceptions about one’s own history, and explores travel’s latest DNA trend, Alex Jordan took the ultimate intrinsic journey into his past by working with DNA Unwrapped, to retrace his ancestry.
Inside the French Presidential Celebration at the Louvre
For better or worse, politics is an integral part of travel as it can shape the way we access other countries and embrace different cultures. Under President Trump, the United States has been slapped with revision after revision of travel bans, a fate that seemed as though it might be mirrored in France with the election of Marine Le Pen and her xenophobic rhetoric. Thankfully, France did not vote their version of Donald Trump into office, choosing instead to usher in a new era with Emmanuel Macron. For this story, Culture Trip traveled to Paris to report on the French election and cover the historic celebration from inside the Macron rally at the Louvre.
Vertical Cities are Cleaning Up One of the World’s Most Polluted Cities
As much as politics has impacted travel, so too has the ongoing debate of climate change and mankind’s environmental impact on our planet. No matter your beliefs or political leanings, the fact is that some of our world’s most beloved cities are wrought with pollution, while climate change is forever defacing some of the planet’s natural wonders. In this story, Alex Jordan explores how São Paulo in Brazil is paving the way for “environmental compensation” by creating vertical gardens amid an urban jungle.
A First Taste of Ethiopian Food with Chef Marcus Samuelsson
On the original Culture Trip series, Hungerlust, Nikki Vargas takes viewers around the world by exploring the various cultures that call New York City home. In this episode, Nikki met with celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson of the popular Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, to have her first bite of Ethiopian food and learn about Ethiopian culture.
Inside Maboneng, Johannesburg’s Answer to Shoreditch and Dumbo
Johannesburg’s Maboneng precinct, roughly 10 minutes from the city centre, is being touted as South Africa’s answer to London’s Shoreditch and New York’s Dumbo neighborhoods. Culture Trip traveled to Johannesburg to explore how food, art and the creation of public spaces are reshaping Maboneng.