What Walking Poles Are and Why They Are Used

You find yourself out on a hike and see someone walking towards you with what appear to be ski poles in their hands.

  • Why in the world would anyone use ski poles when they are clearly not on the slopes of a snow-covered mountain, careening down a steep hill?
  • Has this person lost their mind or is there a reason why they are using these contraptions?

Walking poles are known by many names:

  • walking poles
  • trekking poles
  • hiking staffs
  • Nordic walking poles

All virtually identical to their cousins used on ski slopes with a few notable differences.

Women on Mountain Peak using Trekking Pole

The Shock Absorbing System

Walking poles will typically utilize a shock-absorbing system, which vary by model, but are designed to lessen the shock of impact with the ground on the joints, in the hands, and the arms.

Some utilize rubber pads designed to also grip the terrain more proficiently while others employ metal studs with springs inside of an assembly.

What to Look For in the Best Trekking Pole Grips:

Walking poles have hand grips that have been engineered to eliminate stress on the user’s joints.

Some of these feature special materials known for their ability to absorb sweat.

Materials typically utilized include:

  • cork
  • foam
  • rubber

Most of these grips will be accompanied by an attached strap that fastens around your forearm and helps keep the pole on your arm if you lose your grip.

However, these grips are ergonomically designed to make this event unlikely.

Pole Add-ons & Accessories:

Several brands of trekking poles offer various gadgets attached to the hand grip.

These can include but are not limited to:

  • a compass,
  • a thermometer, a flashlight, or
  • even a mount for a camera.

What’s the Best Walking Stick Material?

Female Two Walking Poles View over Ocean on Mountain

Trekking poles are fabricated from various materials.

Aluminum and carbon fiber are just two of the possible materials used.

Virtually every manufacturer is concerned with making a lightweight product that is user friendly.

Some trekking poles are sturdier than others depending on their composition. The price differences between products are generally associated with the types of materials used.

They can be as cheap as twenty dollars or as expensive as three hundred dollars.

How to Use Trekking Poles Like a Pro

A Collapsible Trekking Pole or a Non-Collapsible Trekking Pole, That is the Question

You have options as to whether you would like collapsible poles or non-collapsible poles.

Non-collapsible poles are simply straight poles, and it is highly unlikely that they will collapse when in weight-bearing situations. At most they will bend.

There is the possibility that when you use collapsible poles they will collapse when you do not want them to. However, for those who are space-conscious and would prefer to have a trekking pole that can be easily transported, a collapsible pole may be exactly what you need.

Besides, who wants to run around, or travel the world, with a long hiking pole poking out of their bag. Thus, in our opinion, collapsible poles are the best.

The designs of these collapsible poles vary greatly, and it is up to you to decide what system you prefer. Another benefit of collapsible poles is that their length can be adjusted to suit the terrain.

Why Are Walking Poles Used?

Now that you know a little bit about what walking poles are, it is time to talk about why they are used.

Balance and Stability

Trail Hike Pole Helps Stability on Uneven Ground

Much in the same way that ski poles help a skier maintain their balance on uneven terrain, trekking poles assist a hiker or walker with maintaining their balance and stability.

Depending on the type of terrain being traversed this can be a critical feature. Of particular significance are situations that call for a downhill descent. Slipping on loose dirt or gravel is common, and a hiking pole can help keep you steady and upright.

According to medical professionals, walking poles force you to engage your upper body in exercise that it would otherwise not participate in if you were simply walking without them.

The use of walking poles turns your walk or hike into an entire body exercise, so that while you are exercising and toning your legs you are also exercising and toning your upper body.

Defense and Protection

Trekking poles can be used as a defensive weapon in times of crisis.

This may sound a bit outlandish, but if you are placed in a situation where you must defend yourself a metal pole might do the trick.

Many people hike alone and without any means of defending themselves.

Dog, Women, Hiking Poles, Backpack

Predatory animals tend to stalk and attack people who are alone and avoid those in groups.

However, a metal pole might offer enough discouragement to the animal to keep you out of harm’s way.

Joint Relief

Walking poles help take pressure off of your legs and joints by distributing part of your weight to your upper body.

This weight distribution will help you avoid joint degradation in your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.

In particularly steep terrain this could become critical for those who suffer from any kind of arthritis.

Perhaps it is time for you to go out and purchase some walking poles with all of this information in mind. Your body will thank you, and your level of fitness will improve with just one little change.

Hiking Poles Doc Heroic Icon

Nordic Walking vs Trekking Poles – What’s the Difference?

The 3-Step Used Shipping Container Quality Assessment Checklist

Being avid travelers, we think it’s only appropriate to want to use a shipping container as building material.

It’s essence gives off the adventure, distant lands, trade, and foreign places vibes–vibes we like to carry with us through life. So, what better way than to repurpose a shipping container for, well–the options are numerous.

From living quarters, to restaurants, to sheds, to emergency shelter, with the sturdy construction of a shipping container built to specs to survive the rigors of the high seas–you can take advantage of this and build a dream something or other.

Whether you’re in the market for a second-hand shipping container for storage purposes, construction material, or anything in between, you want to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.

To ensure you’re purchasing a high-quality used container, take this easy 3-step checklist with you when you talk to the seller.

Apartment housing made from shipping containers

 

1. Where has it been?

When you talk to your chosen seller about their shipping container, you’ll want to ask them where it’s been.

Depending on the temperature it’s exposed to, metal will expand and contract. If your container has been back and forth from Australia to a cold region like northern Europe, the constant swelling and shrinking of the metal may have caused warping and weakness in the steel.

Find out what journeys the container has taken to ensure you don’t get this kind of damage. The less extreme temperatures it’s been exposed to, the better.

Buildings Created Used Shipping Containers Shopping Center

2. How many times has it been used?

The location of your shipping container’s journeys isn’t the only important thing to consider.

You’ll also want to know how many journeys it’s been on.

Aside from damage caused by repeated exposure to extreme temperatures, the constant loading and unloading that a well-used container has to withstand can also cause problems.

You can take a look at the state of the walls inside the container to verify what the seller tells you.

For example, if he or she informs you that the container has been used once, but you can see scratches and dents of various ages, your seller may be lying about the product. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra clarification on any damage you see.

House Design Using Shipping Containers

3. What has it carried?

If your shipping container has taken few journeys to places with moderate temperatures then you may be in luck, but don’t forget that the contents of the previous cargo matter.

For example, if the container was used to ship hazardous chemicals or other dangerous items, it’s possible that some of these could have leaked into the container and permeated the walls.

It’s especially important to avoid this if the container will be used to construct a structure like a house or pool, where the users’ health could be threatened by such substances escaping into the atmosphere.

Amsterdam Apartments Using Shipping Containers


Remember:

Buying used only works out to be a good deal if the item is in good condition and fit for purpose.

If not, you could find yourself spending so much on repairs and replacements that a new container would have been a cheaper purchase.

When your chosen seller cannot answer these questions, find someone who can or purchase at your own risk.

Travel + Work: Synching Across Multiple Time Zones (When on the Road)

Managing a project team is tricky, particularly if your people work across multiple time zones.

With deadlines to meet, projects quickly run into trouble if you don’t account for different working hours.

Make your life easier and meet project targets by implementing these simple global resource management tips.

Use technology to save time  

(The Clock is and awesome world clock that makes keeping time zones up to date a breeze for those on iOS)

It’s confusing trying to work out what time it is in other places.

Avoid mistakes by downloading a time zone app to your computer or smartphone. This handy widget instantly displays the current time in major cities around the world.

With a quick glance, you can check what time it is in Hong Kong or Sydney without having to try to work it out in your head.

When your team works across multiple time zones, this is a great way to save time when booking meetings and planning project activities.

Clearly communicate team member locations and time zones

Team Members Time Zone Map

You can’t assume that all your people know that there is a time zone difference in the team.

Compile a project organization chart, which shows your team members’ locations and which time zone they work in.

Make sure that everyone has a copy of this document, and update it regularly to cope with summer and wintertime changes.

Work package delays often occur because people don’t even know that their colleagues are working several hours ahead or behind.

Make the most of the ideal times of day

Take Advantage of Time Overlap with Remote Workers

Work out if there are certain times of day when everybody in the team is in working hours.

Use these times to concentrate on activities where people need to work together, or where you need a one-to-one conversation with somebody.

It’s much easier to get things done if you can discuss a problem together, rather than try to find the solution via email.

Keep the best time slots free, and spend the rest of the time working on activities that you can complete individually.

Look for opportunities for flexible hours

Offer Flexible Hours

Never assume that your project team members all want to work between nine and five.

Some people are happy to work different hours to suit the needs of the project, and this can help speed up delivery.

Ask people to come in earlier or work later in some countries, to create longer periods of time for collaboration.

Make sure you talk to your colleagues in HR about any legal implications first, because local laws may mean that you have to pay a premium for working outside core office hours.

Can your project budget cope with this?

Communicate more often

Man Communicating Business to Headquarters

If the project delivery is moving very quickly, it’s difficult to make sure that everybody knows what’s happening.

Send regular updates via email even if it’s just to report that everything is on track.

Lead by example and show your project team how important it is to tell one another what is happening.

A daily call is not always necessary if everyone is in one place, but frequent contact is vital if people are working at different times of day.

Never assume that people know the latest developments. Give them the information they need to complete their tasks effectively.

It’s difficult to manage project teams across different time zones.

Global projects bring unique challenges, but if you plan your time carefully, you can easily meet project goals.

Your Heroic Adventure Begins Now

7 Great Business Retreat Activities

Your leadership team will soon be leaving town, heading towards a few days of team building and business-minded brainstorming. You’ve been charged with planning your executives’ business retreat activities.

So, where do you start?

Here are seven luxury business retreat activities that will keep your leadership team happy while creating a successful company outing:

1. Golf

Golf Retreat Team Building

Any good group outing with executives is likely to include a round or two of golf.

Look for golf courses in the area where your execs will be staying, and reach out to the courses for assistance with your planning needs.

Gold course employees are usually well-versed in the art of planning executive getaways.

2. City-Wide Scavenger Hunt

Man Searching on Scavenger Hunt in City

Take team-building across town with a scavenger hunt that resembles The Amazing Race.

There are plenty of online resources to help you make this dream a reality.

The concierge at your leaders’ hotel may be able to offer some tips.

3. Cook-Off

Cook OFF

Cook-offs are favored luxury business retreat activities that pit leaders against each other in a little friendly food competition.

Choose a theme, separate the attendees into two teams, and let the kitchen contest begin! Maximize teamwork by including the task of shopping for groceries in the battle.

4. Bowling

Bowling Alley teamwork

Leaders tend to have a hard time letting their hair down and just hanging out. 

A few gutter balls usually help to bring out some humility, allowing the participants to just enjoy themselves without worrying about always trying to win.

5. Show Your Strengths

Strengths Finder 2.0 Book

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is renowned for making a huge impact in the workplace. 

Have each participant take the test, read about his or her strengths, and discuss them with the group.

Each person can then choose one person for further discussion.

With their StrengthsFinder partner, each person can explore the ways they can enhance communication now that they’ve been given the tools necessary to bridge the gaps.

6. Create A New Company

Retreat Brainstorm new Business Opportunities

Throughout the week, task your leaders with creating a new company.

They’ll need a name, product or service, slogan, logo, vendors, and everything else that makes a business run. This exercise will help each functional department understand the viewpoints of other areas.

If you break your participants into teams, make sure various departments are represented in each group.

Each team should analyze the other’s company, asking questions and identifying holes.

7. Rope Courses

Ropes Courses Executive Rtreat

A rope course may seem cliche at first, but these team-building businesses have been around for a long time for a very good reason: they’re impactful.

Rope courses and zipline adventures are intended to take people out of their comfort zones and find trust with each other.


When you’ve been tasked with planning team-building events for your company’s corporate retreat, fret not!

These ideas will have your executives well on their way to a successful and enjoyable getaway.

Where’s Your Next Heroic Adventure?

A Traveller’s Guide to Finding the Cheapest Airport Parking

When planning a trip beyond the great blue horizon, people often make many considerations for the time they will be in the air heading from point A to point B.

Many travellers fail, however, to make proper considerations for the logistics of arriving and departing from the airport and, therefore, have to make last minute and often costly arrangements for the parking of their vehicles.

Fortunately, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and finding the cheapest airport parking solutions before you go is easier than ever.

Below is an outline of what you should expect and should be looking for when picking the cheapest airport parking.

Tons of Competition

Air Port Parking space find

Many people simply drive onto the premises of the airport and pay for the most affordable option of parking that is available.

This is akin to walking into a major theme park without bringing any refreshments and immediately having to pay £5 for a bottle of water.

The reality is that most major airports have several – if not dozens – of private and off-site airport parking solutions that were built with price competition in mind.

The main reason for parking off-site as opposed to at the airport is the savings in cost. Without this benefit, off-site airport parking would not be a viable business model in most cases.

Disadvantages to Consider

By selecting the cheapest airport parking available – whether at the airport or off-site – there are going to be obvious disadvantages.

This may include being a very inconvenient distance away from the terminal if on-site or having to wait for a shuttle to take you to and fro if you are using an off-site parking service.

While on-site airport parking in many cases is expensive, it’s understood that access to your vehicle from the airport and vice-versa is typically easier than it would be with the cheapest airport parking solutions, especially those that are off-site.

Ultimately, it all comes down to nothing more than the balance of cost versus convenience.

Many Airports Have Valet Parking

Online Services

There are several online comparison hubs that you can use to find the best deals on airport parking.

One example in North America is BestParking, which compares on-site and off-site parking solutions that are centred around 79 airports throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Comparison tools like this one allow you to know before you go, make prior reservations, and get a scope of what each airport parking solution has to offer.

You can map out and determine how far each parking hub is from the airport, how much it will cost, and how long your “commute” will be.

Using online airport parking comparison tools is the best way to find the cheapest airport parking, regardless of where you are located currently.

If you are willing to walk a little bit more or otherwise spend more time on a shuttle getting to your destination, then you will appreciate the flexibility and savings that off-site parking solutions can offer.

For many, though, parking on-site is a must. No matter what, though, there are generally many pricing options available for this service, too. So the only way you can save the most money and be prepared is by doing your homework beforehand.

Adventure Forth to Your Next Heroic Adventure

All About Sushi – Japanese Vinegared Rice

It’s a common misconception with Japanese cuisine that sushi means raw fish, and while the jokes about eating it for the first time can be funny, it’s also misleading.

Like this old chestnut: A couple walk into a Japanese restaurant and pause to admire a tank full of tropical fish. They ask the waiter what the fish are called. “Sushi,” the waiter replies. But as any good waiter would know, sushi actually refers to the vinegared rice, with which raw fish – called sashimi – is often served.

Sushi actually refers to the vinegared rice, with which raw fish – called sashimi – is often served.

Sushi is believed to have started 14 centuries ago, when a common method of pickling fish and rice gained popularity in Japan.

Bamboo Sushi Roller, two hands, rice

The fish was slit open and packed with rice, and as the whole thing fermented for anything up to two years it took on a tangy pickled flavor. Later this process was speeded up, and later still, 19th century food stall owner Hanaya Yohei started creating sushi dishes with vinegared rice and raw fish in Tokyo.

In the 1970s, sushi travelled to the US and other parts of the world, and became part of a new age food revolution. Out of the simple seaweed, rice and raw fish combinations came the California Roll, characteristically bigger than the Japanese delicacies and packed with fish, meat and vegetables and wrapped in a sheet of seaweed, or presented ‘inside out’ with the rice on the outside and the seaweed tucked away with the filling.

California Roll

But Japanese sushi chefs continued to evolve the delicacies known collectively as sushi into ever more graceful art forms.

There are several different forms of sushi, including:

  • maki-sushi, which is the ‘inside out’ sushi that evolved into the California Roll;
  • Nigiri Sushi, which is vinegared rice shaped by hand into a small bed for seafood;
  • oshi sushi, which is sushi rice shaped into squares or rectangles and covered with a variety of toppings;
  • chirashi sushi, which is vinegared rice scattered on a plate and served with toppings.

To make sushi at home you need to buy the right ingredients.

There are only two of them – Japanese short grain rice and sushi rice vinegar. You can get them both from an Asian grocery store.

  1. Rinse two cups of rice in a colander under a running tap to remove the starch and ensure the rice is sticky when cooked.
  2. Put the washed rice into a large pot, and add two cups of water, or into a rice cooker following the manufacturer’s instructions. If in a pot, bring it to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the water.

Japanese Short Grain Rice

Your Asian grocery store may stock sushi rice vinegar, pre-mixed and ready to use.

If not, buy rice vinegar and mix half a cup of vinegar with three tablespoons of white sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small pan.

Heat until sugar dissolves, and sprinkle over the rice in a non-metal bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spatula, and your sushi rice is ready to roll and shape, using a sushi fan as you work to cool the rice. Store any leftover sushi vinegar in the fridge.

Whether you choose to make maki, nigiri, oshi or chirashi sushi, it is important to have the freshest ingredients possible.

Raw fish, such as tuna and salmon, are among the most commonly used ingredients, but if you cannot obtain these really fresh from the ocean, you will be better off using canned, smoked or cooked fish.

Avocado is a popular ingredient in California Rolls and most sushi sold today, but you can also include carrot sticks, celery, prawns, crab, chicken, lettuce strips, tomato and cucumber.

cutting sashimi in kitchen

If you are rolling the sushi in seaweed sheets, a bamboo hand rolling mat (see photo above) will make the job easier.

This won’t stop people making jokes about raw fish, of course, but at least while you are laughing, you can gently correct them as you hand them your own delicious sushi creations.

Bonus: How to Make Sushi [Video]

More Heroic Adventures

The Best Attractions in Lima’s Miraflores District [Peru]

Although many travelers visit Peru to explore its pre-Columbian heritage, most travelers passing through the nation’s capital, Lima, prefer to stay in the city’s most modern neighborhood: Miraflores.

Travelers choose Miraflores for its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, its vibrant arts and entertainment scene, and its wide range of attractions that appeal to every kind of traveler. 

When you visit Lima, make sure to check out some of the very best that Miraflores has to offer.

1. Casa Museo Ricardo Palma

Ricardo Palma was a Lima-born writer and thinker who oversaw the country’s National Library from 1883 to 1892.

Today, the government has preserved his long-time home as a museum where visitors can see the original furnishings, paintings, documents and art that he cherished during the last years of his life.

Currently, the museum is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 5:00, but is closed for a lengthy daily lunch from 12:45 until 2:30.  Entrance is six soles ($1.75 USD).

For updated information and opening hour, visit their website>>>

2. Huaca Pucllana

huaca pucllana Miraflores Peru

If your trip to Peru doesn’t include time in Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, you can visit this sacred historic site that has been preserved on its original location in the Miraflores neighborhood.

It features a typical pyramid crafted from adobe and clay, surrounded by a central square and walls.

At press time, Huaca Pucllana is open daily from Wednesday to Monday, and regular entrance fees are twelve soles ($3.50 USD).

For updated information and current opening hours, visit the Huac Pucllana official site here>>

3. Larcomar

Larcomar Upscale Mall Miraflores Peru

Larcomar is Miraflores’ most famous, and most architecturally interesting, shopping center.

It is carved into the seaside cliffs at the south end of Avenida Jose Larco and features several open-air and glass-walled viewing decks offering panoramic views of the sea. 

Larcomar is home to several upscale restaurants and coffee shops, as well as the best selection of international clothing shops in town.

There are eight shops where you can stock up on high-quality athletic and outdoors apparel and equipment before your Inca Trail trek.

For updated information and current opening hours, visit Larcomar’s official site here>>

4. Malécon

Area of Malecon near beach in Miraflores Peru

The malécon is a six-mile stretch of oceanfront parks, walking paths and cycling routes that runs along the Pacific Coast from the artsy Barranco neighborhood in the south all the way to the north end of Miraflores.

Active travelers will love going for a jog or bike ride beside the ocean, adventure travelers will want to try paragliding (buy your tickets from the booth at Block 2) and creative types will want to take in the many different sculptures erected along the walkways.

For updated information about the park (in Spanish only), visit Miraflores Parks page here>>

5. Parque del Amor (Lover’s Park)

El Beso (the Kiss) statue in Love Park Lima Peru

Also known as the “Park of Love”, Parque del Amor is Lima’s most romantic park.

At the center of the park is Victor Delfin’s gigantic red statue El Beso (The Kiss), shown above, that features two loves entangled, horizontally, in a kiss.

The park also has some of the best sunset views in the city, making it the perfect place to snuggle up with the person you love.

6. Parque Kennedy

Parque Kennedy

Situated in central Miraflores, away from the ocean, Parque Kennedy has become a controversial tourist attraction that often pits frustrated locals against wide-eyed tourists.

The park was named after John F. Kennedy and is frequented by buskers, shoe shiners and the elderly.

It is also frequented by the one hundred (or more) stray cats who call the park home.  There are cats on the grass, cats on the benches and even cats in the trees.

While some consider the cats to be a public health hazard, other consider them an adorable addition to the neighborhood.

You’ll have to visit and decide for yourself!


Whether you want to explore the history of Lima, have an active holiday or simply relax with a cup of hot chocolate while you pet a stray cat, Miraflores has something for you.

It is also well-connected by bus rapid transit (BRT) to the historic center of Lima, so you can see the very best of old and new Peru during your stay.

Bonus: The Best Sites in Lima Peru [Video]

More Heroic Adventures

The Pirates Of Mauritius: More Indian Ocean Booty

Piracy has long been a problem in the southern Indian Ocean, not just in recent times, but as long ago as the seventeenth century.

However, while the legendary Golden Age of Pirates came to an end in the nineteenth century, the same cannot be said of the waters in the area of Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Golden Age of PiracyModern piracy is alive and well in this area, although international efforts to curb their activities is beginning to have an impact.

The pirates are largely from Somalia and there are many complicated factors in play as to why piracy continues to exist as a threat to international shipping and the fledgling economies of the Seychelles and Mauritius.

Island of Mauritius, Indian Ocean, Map

The Somali Civil War

Since approximately 1991, when the government of Somalia collapsed, the Somali Navy was no longer available to patrol and protect the coastal areas of Somalia from illegal fishing in Somali waters.

As the fledgling Somali fishing industry was threatened by this situation, a group of displaced Somali fishermen formed a coastguard to protect their livelihoods. So began the piracy and attacks on shipping in the area, particularly around the Bay of Aden. This situation soon changed and the motives for the attacks on international shipping changed to profiteering.

Warlords supported the pirates after recognising the potential profits which were available for the taking.

Somalia Refugee Settlement

Dumping Of Toxic Waste

It has been reported s been by both Somali pirates and the United Nations that toxic waste has been illegally dumped in the waters off Somalia, resulting in further destruction of Somali fishing grounds.

pirates interfered with international shipping This is thought to be an additional reason as to why Somali pirates interfered with international shipping. This information has not been reported in the media in the way that the pirating depredations have.

In Somalia piracy is generally viewed as a form of National defence whereas other nations view it as an evil that must be removed.

However, as with the situation with illegal fishing, the attacks escalated with the realisation of huge profits that could be made from the pirate trade.

Escalation Of Pirate Activities

The size, value and location of the pirate’s activities continued to increase and the Bay of Aden was no longer the sole area of operations for the pirates.

The southern Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea have became a hub of pirate activity with large international shipping being the most attractive targets.

Pirates Interfere with Indian Shipping Ships carrying food aid to war torn Somalia have been attacked, along with a significant amount of Indian shipping.

Other nations such as China, Germany, the UK, US and Spain have also been affected, to the point where one hundred and eleven attacks occurred in 2008 alone.

This increased to over one thousand attacks in 2009 and the frequency rose to daily.

A multinational task force called Task Force 150 was set up in 2008 to both patrol the area as well as provide escorts for unprotected shipping.

The Indian government also began regular patrols at this time because of the number of attacks on the Indian shipping destined for the Arabian Gulf.

Pirate Attack Arabian Sea In fact as piracy has escalated, it has been primarily international shipping on its way through the Arabian Gulf, which has borne the brunt of the profiteering pirate attacks.

Some shipowners have supplied their own security and increased insurance costs, together with security costs, have resulted in very costly losses to some international shipping.

The Current Situation

Mauritius and the Seychelles have become involved in counter-piracy patrols in recent times due to the effect that piracy has been having on the development of tourism in both countries.

In fact on 30th of March 2010 the Seychelles Coast Guard rescued 27 hostages.

They also sank two pirate boats on the same day. In July 2011 both the Seychelles and Mauritius signed an agreement to transfer captured pirates to be tried locally if the pirates had been captured in Mauritian waters. Agreements have also been signed which allows for prisoners to serve out their prison terms in Somalia.

Pirates Indian Ocean The Seychelles has also recently hosted a conference related to the Maritime Security of the area and further demonstrates the active stance that the Seychelles is taking in an attempt to control piracy. 

In addition to these measures, the Seychelles has also agreed to work with the Somali government to create a raised awareness of Somali piracy as well as the need to develop alternative means of employment for Somali pirates.

This recognises that fighting piracy alone will not solve the problem and that international assistance is required in this area as well. This further demonstrates that the Seychelles remains committed to ending piracy in the Indian Ocean and has displayed commendable leadership.

As recently as January 2012, the Danish, British Spanish and United States Navy’s captured Somali pirate vessels and these ongoing international patrols are lessening the number of pirate attacks on the international shipping.

In 2012 imprisoned pirates peeked at 76 pirates in prison in the Seychelles while with joint efforts of multiple countries the frequency of piracy in the region has declined.

United Nations standard prisons are to be built in Somalia, and the pirates transferred there to serve their sentences (see more). The Seychelles is also working with the African Union to address political and economic issues that are resulting in piracy.

All these measures are having an impact on the level of piracy-related activities in the region and the number of attacks is expected to continue to drop.

 

Mauritius Landscape

Mauritius Landscape

 

Read Part 1: Pirates of the Seychelles: Looking for Booty

Pirates of the Seychelles: Looking for Booty

Magnificent cliffs and stunning waters have earned the Seychelles a reputation for romance and unparalleled beauty. Every year honeymooners flock to this storybook paradise, which lies more than 1,000 miles from any other land mass between Africa and India.

Inhabitants of African, European and Asichanan descent call the remote archipelago home but have only populated the islands for a few hundred years. The first people to make use of the area were pirates who hid from capture in the uncharted waters during the 16th and 17th centuries.

pirate shipIronically, history has come full circle in the Seychelles where, for over a decade, modern pirates, equipped with global positioning systems and lightweight outboard motors, have increasingly plagued the region.

Sandy Shores of seychelles

This piracy has its roots in the Seychelles’ distant and unstable neighbor, Somalia.

According to the Congressional Research Service, in the 1990s, Somali warlords operating along clan lines began using misleading names to act as “official security” and extract fines from foreign ships.

Somali piratingOver the past decade, driving forces such as poverty, environmental adversity, lack of employment and a volatile political situation have all contributed to an increased recruitment of pirates in Somalia.

Although pirates drowned by the dozen, financial desperation countered the risk associated with pirating on dangerous open seas in small fishing skiffs. In addition, the pirates benefited from certain conditions including high levels of commercial activity, weak regional cooperation, small national navies, and a large coastal area across which they could operate. The pirates loosely organized into seven to ten “gangs” with different patterns of activity and different abilities.

In response to the increased piracy, international vessels intensified patrol in the waters off the Horn of Africa.

Unfortunately, this pressure pushed the pirates southeast across vast stretches of ocean to the Seychelles. “Motherships” loaded with fuel and water allowed the pirates to increase their range around the isolated islands where, according to the BBC, more than 200 attacks took place in 2009 alone.

Pirates of the Seychelles Pirate Map Seychelles

Unlike pirate attacks in other regions that aim to seize ships and cargo, these attacks often involve kidnapping and ransom demands for as much as $5 million, possibly because the pirates have access to inland areas of Somalia where they can hold victims for what have become longer and longer periods of time.

Insurance companies often settle these types of kidnapping cases hidden from the media.

However, in September 2009, when pirates captured British retirees Paul and Rachel Chandler from their yacht less than 60 nautical miles offshore, the terrifying story became public and attracted international attention. As incidents such as this one continue to publicize piracy in the Seychelles, islanders fear that frightening images of AK-47s and rocket grenades will superimpose those of turquoise waters and pink granite in the minds of potential tourists.

This fear runs deep because the Seychelles’ tourism industry provides 25.5 percent of its GDP and employs a large portion of the population.

real pirate shipsIn addition to kidnapping for ransom, piracy in the Seychelles has been associated with increased terrorism, trafficking of weapons and narcotics, illegal fishing, illegal dumping, and human smuggling.

None of these provide enticing material for brochures, and residents are keenly aware that couples looking for romantic getaways and leisure sailors wanting to experience the stunning natural scenery do not want threats of piracy overshadowing their fantasies. Furthermore, the Seychellois worry that the ransoms paid for hostages will only make piracy look more profitable and increase the number of attacks.

However, their biggest nightmare is that the pirates will venture out of the open seas and attack one of the tourist beaches.

pirate hideout seychelles shoreline

The people of the Seychelles have good reason to be afraid.

The nation’s economy, which had finally begun to rebound from a huge per capita national debt, has begun to see large scale negative effects from piracy.

Modern Day PiratesYacht yards lay empty and hotels have lost $8 million in cancellations. Fewer cruise ships and leisure boats are making stops in the archipelago, and cargo insurance continues to increase as the pirates interrupt international shipping.

Most large vessels have begun carrying French marines or Spanish private contractors for defense. According to the African Independent News, these security details have successfully fended off at least ten separate pirate attacks, but this protection drains monetary resources, both public and private.

Piracy has hit the fishing industry in the Seychelles even harder than tourism and shipping.

The backbone of the islands’ economy rests on skipjack and yellow tuna fin tuna headed for the European market. One tuna factory alone employs 3,000 people in a nation of only 85,000.

In September 2009, the same month the Chandlers were kidnapped, the factory’s entire tuna fleet had to come into port because the danger of pirate interception was so high. Crews continue to fear both the pirates themselves and the economic dangers they bring.

Somalian piratesThe threats and fleet dockings have significantly impacted tuna production which is down thirty percent, according to Joel Morgan, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Transport, and Prisons.

The factories, in turn, have had to let go dock workers and crew members, leaving them without incomes.

While the EU, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Russia, US and Britain have supplied help to the Seychelles in the form of spotter planes, drones, and ships to better prevent pirate interception, it is estimated that naval ships have but a fifteen to thirty minute window in which they can successfully ward off an attack.

modern day Pirates Keeping Tourist Away from Seychelles

Further hindering the effort to stamp out piracy in the region is the tricky issue of pirate imprisonment.

Astoundingly, until 2010, foreign vessels that captured pirates often took them to Somalia and let them free.

buccaneers The Seychelles lacked the laws, courts, and prisons for prosecuting the pirates and, although there were a few isolated instances of prosecution in European countries, it was feared that the prisoners could use this as a route to political asylum.

A breakthrough was achieved in 2010 when the Seychelles passed tough anti-piracy laws and sentenced eleven pirates to ten years in prison. It became the only other country besides Kenya to sign an agreement with the EU that allowed suspected pirates to be jailed and prosecuted.

The tiny nation also built a new wing for captured pirates in its one and only prison.

Ocean Map Seychelles in Center

Pirate Prison UN Office on Drugs and Crime

(“This is the pirates’ prison, hidden high in the hills” source)

While anti-piracy cooperation in the Seychelles looks promising, the situation remains complex.

Conspiracy theories abound.

pirate shipSome Seychellois claim that the pirates are linked through Somali Islamist groups to Al Queda. Other islanders think that the pirates’ profits ultimately end up in the hands of certain British and American banks.

However, the US Congressional Research Service explains the pirates indirectly benefit terrorists but are not directly aligned with them.

Furthermore, it debunks the myth that the pirates operate through pre-emptive intelligence on land.

As for the key to permanently lifting the dark cloud of piracy from these breathtaking islands, all involved agree that it lies in the hopeful emergence of a stable Somalia.

Read Part Two: The Pirates Of Mauritius: More Indian Ocean Booty


Seychelles Piracy in the News

Elsewhere in Pirate News

Top 5 Cities to Live as a Digital Nomad

As the internet has given people the ability to work remotely, some have abandoned the old lifestyle of being tied to a place and 9-to-5 job.

Digital nomads travel the world, working from places as diverse and bohemian as an internet cafe in Prague or a beach in Bali.

Their geographically independent lifestyle lets them choose the cities with the lowest living costs, best climate or best local food.

Whether you are a writer, teacher, web developer, engineer, programmer or designer, here are the best places in the world to live as a digital nomad:

1. Bali, Indonesia

Ubud Bali Rice Fields

Bali is an Indonesian island known for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountain views and diverse wildlife.

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting and exotic place to live. Whether you want to see a live volcano, go on a safari, explore a monkey forest or enjoy one of the most complex cuisines in the world, Bali has something to offer to everyone.

The affordable rent and great WiFi connection have made Bali an extremely popular place for digital nomads in the past years.

Cost

The cost of living in Bali is a mere $900 USD a month.

2. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Sunset Old Town

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe.

Prague is full of cultural attractions which survived the world wars, such as:

Not to mention many world-class museums, galleries and concert halls.

With good WiFi, a more than affordable cost of living, great public transportation, and an amazing nightlife, Prague is currently one of the upward trending destinations for digital nomads.

Costs

About $800 a month.

3. Phuket City, Thailand

Startup Style Soloprenuer in Phuket

Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, is a veritable paradise of turquoise waters and white beaches.

You can explore beaches and lagoons, practice water sports, enjoy the mix of Chinese and colonial architecture or visit the Buddhist temple of Wat Chalong, the spiritual center of Phuket.

Cost

The living expenses for a digital nomad in Phuket amount to a mere $800 a month, including housing and eating out three times a day, as well as fast WiFi connection.

4. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi Boats on Water

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and its second largest city, lies on the bank of the Red River.

With its busy streets, delicious street food, many bars and cafes and extremely low cost of living, Hanoi is attracting more digital nomads every year.

Cost

Hanoi also offers fast WiFi and several great coworking spaces, which are bustling with entrepreneurs and startups, making it easy to get inspired and start connections. The living expenses in Hanoi are around $700 a month.

5. San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose Costa Rica National Theatre Statue

Costa Rica is one of the most popular places in Latin America for digital nomads, especially for those who enjoy nature.

With its great beaches, natural parks and a myriad of natural attractions, Costa Rica is the ideal place to work remotely.

San Jose, the capital, is renowned for its great food and nightlife.

For those who enjoy activities such as yoga and surfing, Santa Teresa offers a more relaxed lifestyle.

Cost

The cost of living in Costa Rica is about $1,500 a month.


The internet has revolutionized the way people live and work, bringing with it more flexibility and freedom.

Increasing numbers of people are abandoning crowded offices and polluted cities to work from idyllic places in the world, where the food and beaches are exceptional and the costs of living are much lower than in most Western cities.

Not only can such a nomadic lifestyle be cheaper than living in the same place all the time, but it gives you the opportunity to experience new places and cultures, which can be a boost to your creativity.