Ask the expert


Jon Bowermaster

Fresh from the publication of his book Birthplace of the Winds: Storming Alaska's Islands of Fire and Ice, Jon Bowermaster is gearing up for a Cuban odyssey and, later this spring, a 60-day kayaking expedition in Vietnam. Jon's explorations include dogsled travels in the Arctic and Antarctica and first-ever raft descents in Chile and China. A resident of Paris and New York State, he is the author of six books and has chronicled numerous adventures (his own and others') for many popular magazines, including National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, and National Geographic Traveler.

Let me know when Jon posts answers!




Expedition Adviser

Dogsledding the Antarctic? Paddling the Aleutians? Rafting an untested Chinese river? You name it, author-explorer Jon Bowermaster's been there, done that. And now he'll help you plan your own adventure. But type fast—any day now he's leaving for a two-month trip to kayak Vietnam.

Q:  

My friend, a professional photographer, often hires a local "fixer" when on assignment in other countries. If I were planning an extended trip to Siberia, for example, how might I connect up with an honest guide and translator? Not of the Intourist, tour bus, or rich-as-Croesus-CEO-fishing-guide variety? What's your advice?

—Luc, Montreal

Dear Luc,

"Fixers" are definitely a plus, especially if you're in a remote place or one with a difficult language and really bad road signs.

I would start with the guidebooks—Lonely Planet, the Rough Guide—and make some inquiries, looking for recommendations of guides who specialize in one-on-one services. My first choice, of course, is to ask a friend who's been where you're going—which is what I usually do—but if you're truly going off the beaten path, that might prove difficult.

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