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Nomad Revelations • Travel blog

Nomad Revelations is a travel blog written to inspire and empower “independent” travelers and “audacious backpackers” through travel, adventure, and exploration stories.

Nomad Revelations • Travel blog

Hi, I’m João! Welcome to my blog, where I share my travel experiences and adventures in off-the-beaten-track travel destinations.

You may notice that the primary intention of this blog is to encourage and motivate other travelers to discover exciting and unknown places around the world.

Exotic itineraries and ideas to inspire independent travelers. Are you ready to think outside the box for your next adventure?

Roteiro de 1 semana no Iémen

I own a Moroccan travel agency and Tour Operator & DMC specializing in group tours and private trips to adventure destinations worldwide, and you will probably find me somewhere between a Marrakech desert tour and an expedition to Iran or Syria.

Best travel blog about exciting journeys into more than 145 UN+ countries across Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North to South America, and Oceania. Traveling since 1999.

The most remarkable aspect of traveling is witnessing all life elements come together in a foreshortened timeline. It’s as if we are simultaneously time-traveling through our past and future. Secured by its focal present, collectively combining all lessons into our own being at each point in time and in each present moment.

Travel Blog Highlights

2001 – Solo backpacking and hitchhiking travel around Central and Eastern Europe in countries such as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland.

2003 – Solo backpacking trip around Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries such as FYR of Macedonia, State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Poland.

2003 – Solo hitchhiking trip from Portugal to Senegal. Flying back home on a fish cargo plane departing from Mauritania.

2004 – 13000km/8077mi car overland expedition from Portugal to Senegal and Gambia via Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania. Detained for 2 days by the Moroccan forces on the wall near Gueltat Zemmur separating Morocco and the Polisario-controlled areas (Free Zone, nominally Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic).

2004 – Solo backpacking travel in Central Asia around Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Evacuated out of Tashkent due to suicide bombers strike. I flew to Iran, where I stayed to practice local Kung-Fu To’a. Overland to Turkey by bus.

2005 – One-month – 5000km/3100mi winter solo road trip in Russia with temperatures around -33ºC/-27F.

2007 – Two-week – 2900km/1800mi road trip in Cuba exploring the island countryside and less famous destinations.

2008 – Backpacking in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine.

2008 – 4000km/2500mi banger rally with a 1986 Moskvitch 2140 from Hungary to Armenia right after the Russian-Georgian War.

2008 – Solo hitchhiking and adventure trip in Mali – West Africa, crossing all the way to the famous city of Timbuktu.

2009 – 4X4 overland expedition in the Mauritanian Sahara Desert along with the land mine areas of the railway between Nouadhibou and Choum.

2009 – Solo backpacking around Eastern Europe around Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Transnistria, a country that doesn’t exist.

2009 – Solo hitchhiking and driving around northern Iraq.

2011 – Celebrating the independence days of the newly born African country, being the first traveler crossing the land border to travel to South Sudan.

2011 – Hitching from South Sudan to Uganda via the Democratic Republic of Congo, I was rescued in the jungle by the Moroccan UN peacekeeper forces after being surrounded by a mob holding machetes. Furthermore, on the trip, I got hospitalized after contracting Malaria.

2011 – 3000km/1860mi road trip in Oman.

2012 – 6500km/4000mi banger rally from Hungary to Kyrgyzstan while participating in the Central Asia Rally.

2012 – Solo driving in northern Afghanistan to visit Mazar-I-Sharif, Baghlan, Kholm, and the infamous Taliban-friendly city of Kunduz.

2012 – 1-month backpacking trip around Iran.

2013/201418-month travel around the world.

2013Backpacking across the Guianas, through Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana in South America.

2013Amazon river by boat » 550 hours in Brazil, Peru & Ecuador.

2014 – Four-month – 13350km/8300mi road trip in South America from Quito in Ecuador to Ushuaia in Argentina.

2014 – Two-week Antarctica expedition crossing the 66º at the Antarctic Circle.

2014 – Backpacking across all of Central America from Panama to Mexico.

2014 – Joining a political thematic tour to visit North Korea.

2015 – Solo backpacking trip to visit Tunisia in two weeks.

2015 – One-month – 9000km/5600mi road trip in southern Africa, crossing Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia.

2015 Climbing an active volcano in Cape Verde Archipelago.

2016 – Exploring Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, and Basra, a few amazing places to visit in Iraq.

2017Egypt to Sudan by Boat » 19 hours from Aswan to Wadi Halfa.

2017/2018 – One-Year – 38000km/23600mi van life journey across Central Asia and the Middle East in countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Iran, crossing the Pamir Highway, etc…

2018Visiting Mosul in Iraq, six months after its liberation from terrorist groups.

2018 – Exploring the Hadhramaut Region in Yemen.

2018 – 2-week solo Saudi Arabia road trip.

2020 – Exploring Syria and crossing the M5 highway of death through Idbil Province during Russian airstrikes and live tank shelling on Nairad Axix in Idlib.

Nomad Revelations • Travel blog

Exploring

Days traveling

3697

Continents

7

Countries

128

Cities

1297

Unesco

334

Travel history

Countries where I spent more time:

  • Portugal 26 years
  • Morocco 16 years
  • Poland 16 months
  • Turkey 11 months
  • USA 8 months
  • Ukraine 6 months
  • Finland 6 months
  • Iran 4 months
  • Brazil 4 months
  • Peru 2 months
  • Russia 2 months
  • Iraq 2 months
  • Uzbekistan 2 months
  • Kazakhstan 2 months
  • Tajikistan 2 months
  • Mauritania 1.5 months
  • Argentina 1 month
  • Kyrgyzstan 1 month
  • Venezuela 1 month
  • Bulgaria 1 month
  • Georgia 1 month
  • China 1 month
  • Chile 1 month
  • Greece 1 month
  • Germany 1 month
  • France 1 month

Countries visited more than 6 times:

Countries visited 4 and 5 times:

  • United States of America 5X
  • Georgia 5X
  • Romania 5X
  • Slovakia 5X
  • Uzbekistan 5X
  • Czech Republic 5X
  • Bulgaria 5X
  • Kazakhstan 4X
  • Tajikistan 4X
  • South Africa 4X
  • Finland 4X
  • United Kingdom 4X
  • Serbia 4X
  • Iran 5X
  • Brazil 4X
  • Ukraine 4X

Countries visited 3 times:

  • Iraq 3X
  • Switzerland 3X
  • Egypt 3X
  • Russia 3X
  • Chile 3X
  • Peru 3X
  • Oman 3X
  • Croatia 3X
  • Lebanon 3X
  • Greece 3X
  • Italy 3X
  • Armenia 3X

Countries visited 2 times:

  • Argentina 2X
  • Colombia 2X
  • Albania 2X
  • Austria 2X
  • Belgium 2X
  • Netherlands 2x
  • Senegal 2X
  • Ethiopia 2X
  • Kenya 2X
  • Uganda 2X
  • Kyrgyzstan 2X
  • Thailand 2X
  • Nepal 2X
  • Israel 2X
  • Macedonia 2X
  • Denmark 2x
  • Estonia 2X
  • Latvia 2X
  • Lithuania 2X
  • Trinidad and Tobago 2X

As seen on

As seen on

Adventure Travel



Motivation



Van Life


How long did I spend on the road with a camper van?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken a few van life trips in the past, but my most recent adventure was truly epic. It lasted for a full year and took me on a journey of over 35,000 kilometers. I started in Russia and traveled through Central Asia, eventually reaching the Middle East in countries like Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. The van served as my home on wheels, and I was able to see and experience so much during this incredible journey. Van life can be a rewarding and exciting way to travel, and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to embark on this extended adventure.

What type of van did I have?

I decided to embark on a vanlife adventure and chose a 2012 4X4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 316 CDI as my vehicle. This particular model has a powerful 170 horsepower engine, making it well-suited for tackling off-road terrain. The Sprinter is also known for its spacious interior, making it a comfortable and convenient choice for living on the road. Overall, I am very happy with my decision to go with the Sprinter for my vanlife journey and have confidence in its performance and durability.

Was driving to Tajikistan, Iran, and Iraq with a European camper van was dangerous?

During my year on the road with a camper van, I never encountered any dangerous situations. I spent an extended period of time in Tajikistan and also had long stays in Iran and Iraq. Despite common misconceptions, I found Iran to be a very safe country and was pleasantly surprised by my experiences there. I also had a positive and incident-free visit to Iraq. Overall, I was fortunate to have a smooth and secure journey throughout my van life adventure.

Did I travel alone for one year?

I did not travel alone for a year in a camper van. In fact, I was accompanied by my wife and our 2-year-old son. By the time we completed our trip in September 2018, our son had just turned three years old and had stopped wearing diapers somewhere in Iraq. Traveling with a child can certainly add some extra challenges and considerations, but it can also be a rewarding and enriching experience. We were able to share so many memorable moments as a family and create lasting memories together on the road.

What happened to my 4×4 Mercedes camper van?

After my vanlife adventure came to an end, I made the decision to sell my trusty 4X4 Sprinter. This was not an easy decision, as the van had served me well on my journey and had become a beloved part of my travels. However, there were a few practical considerations that led to my decision. For one, I had purchased the van in Poland, but I live in Morocco, which made bringing the vehicle back home somewhat complicated and not legally possible. In the end, I decided to sell the van through the online marketplace Mobile.de. The website proved to be an effective platform for finding a buyer, as I received interest from over 90 potential buyers. After some negotiation, I eventually sold the van to an Austrian man who was willing to fly all the way to Poland to pick it up. It was a bittersweet moment to say goodbye to my van, but I was glad to have found a good home for it and to have made a nice profit in the process.


Overland



Boat Travel



Beautiful Places



Resources



Van Life • 1 year on the road



Two weeks in Saudi Arabia


With a notorious passion for driving, I am emphatic about heading out on the road and traveling. With the ability to decide where to go and where to stop, I have a full sense of freedom while on the road.

I just came back from a 35.000 km (21.750 mi) road trip with a DIY camper van. Check out this short video of driving the icy mountains of Kyrgyzstan at 3.112 m (10.210 ft)

Saudi Arabia just recently opened its doors to foreign tourism. This unknown country has plenty of natural and historical wonders that will make most adventure travelers anxious to visit.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most photogenic desert countries that I’ve ever visited and is packed with breathtaking photo locations.


Featured destination: Iran


Iran is a truly fantastic travel destination, with a blend of welcoming and friendly people, a diverse range of landscapes, and a rich historical heritage. I have had the opportunity to visit Iran five times and have spent a total of five months exploring the country. Each time I visit, I am struck by the incredible variety of things to see and do. From the bustling cities and ancient landmarks, to the stunning natural beauty of the countryside, there is something for everyone in Iran.

One of the things that I love most about Iran is the warmth and hospitality of the people. Iranians are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever met, and they always go out of their way to make visitors feel at home. This, combined with the country’s rich history and cultural traditions, makes Iran a truly unique and rewarding place to visit.

Overall, I highly recommend Iran as a travel destination for anyone looking to experience something truly special and unique. Whether you are interested in history, culture, or simply enjoying the beauty of the natural world, there is something for everyone in this amazing country. So, Iran is a fantastic travel destination with welcoming and friendly people, a variety of landscapes, and a vast historical heritage.

Check out my pages about traveling in Iran

Join us on an 11-day group tour of Iran, where you will experience the rich history and culture of this amazing country. Our tour will take you on a journey along the historical route, visiting some of Iran’s most famous and beautiful cities. You will have the opportunity to explore the bustling streets of Tehran, the stunning architecture of Isfahan, and the ancient ruins of Persepolis. Along the way, you will also have the chance to sample the delicious local cuisine, learn about the rich history and culture of the region, and make new friends with like-minded travelers. Our group tour is perfect for those looking to experience the best of Iran in a short amount of time. With experienced guides and comfortable transportation, you can sit back and relax as we take care of all the details. You can book your spot on our tour through our website or by contacting our travel agency. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to discover the beauty and wonder of Iran!


Who is the author of this blog?


My name is João Leitão and I was born in Lisbon – Portugal – back in 1980. My UN-visited countries list goes up to more than 130. With a degree in Visual Arts, I like adventure travel, photography, and cooking.

Human contact and communication are crucial, so interacting with local people during my travels is very important to me as an individual. Being on the road fits my personality perfectly, and this blog is my way of sharing those best travel experiences.

I am a guy who defines himself as curious. Basically, I am a sponge, a boy with a backpack exploring the world and absorbing new experiences and new encounters daily: architecture, vestiges of the past, religious beliefs, flavors, aromas, languages and dialects, and musical expressions.

Although I moved to Morocco in 2007, so far, I have also lived in countries such as Finland, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Turkey, Ukraine, the U.S.A., and more recently, Brazil and Poland. Now that you know a bit more about me, here I am to welcome you to my blog, where I gathered travel tips after 20 years of traveling the world and inspiring narratives to motivate you to hit the road!

Panj River between Afghanistan and Tajikistan

Quick Q&A about this top travel blog


Why is this blog about adventure travel?

This blog is focused on adventure travel because I have a passion for exploring lesser-known destinations and experiencing new cultures. To me, adventure travel means venturing beyond the typical tourist trails and seeking out unique and unfamiliar experiences. It can involve a wide range of activities, from hiking and camping to cultural immersions and urban exploration.

One of the things that I enjoy most about adventure travel is the sense of excitement and unpredictability that comes with visiting less-traveled countries. Some of the destinations I have written about on this blog include Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Congo, all of which are relatively off the beaten path and may not be accessible or advisable for all travelers. However, I believe that with careful planning and a spirit of curiosity and openness, it is possible to have rewarding and safe adventures in these and other destinations.

Ultimately, I hope that this blog serves as a source of inspiration and guidance for anyone who is interested in exploring the world and seeking out new and exciting experiences. Whether you are an experienced adventurer or just starting out on your travel journey, I hope that you will find something of value here. So, this blog is all about adventure travel, and I try to cover as many off-beaten destinations as I can.

What is the biggest adventure I’ve ever had?

It’s hard to say what my biggest adventure has been, as I’ve had so many memorable travels over the years. However, one trip that stands out in my mind took place in 2010, when I was traveling through South Sudan, Congo, and Uganda. This journey was quite challenging, as I encountered some unfriendly people with machetes in the jungle and had to rely on protection from Moroccan Blue Helmets to make my way through dangerous areas. I ended up traveling inside a heavily armed U.N. Hummer to navigate the wilderness and eventually contracted Malaria, which required hospitalization and treatment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Overall, it was a rough but ultimately rewarding journey that tested my limits and taught me a lot about resilience and adaptability.

Since when did I write my travel blog?

I have been blogging since 2003! Starting a travel blog came into my mind when I had my first photography website back in 2001, when I began my photo project called People of the World. I was around the world portraying people from different countries. In 2003, I started sharing my adventure stories and travel photographs on the Internet on a popular travel website that is now extinct. Finally, in 2006 I opened my own domain – this one you are now – and commenced writing more information about the places I had been in since 1999. I first started writing in my native language Portuguese, and in 2010 I decided to open the English equivalent “Nomad Revelations World Travel Blog”. There are other travel bloggers that I like, such as Expert Vagabond and Against the Compass.

How many countries have I been to?

As of December 2019, I have had the opportunity to visit a total of 145UN+ countries and approximately 20 non-recognized countries or autonomous territories around the world. This has been an incredible journey that has allowed me to experience a diverse range of cultures and landscapes. While I have made a concerted effort to visit as many countries as possible, I have also made a point to return to certain places that I particularly enjoy and feel a strong connection to. For example, I have been to Mauritania a total of 7 times, Uzbekistan 5 times, Turkey 14 times, and Iraq 4 times.

Returning to these countries has allowed me to delve deeper into the local cultures and gain a more nuanced understanding of the places I visit. It has also allowed me to form lasting relationships with the people I meet and to develop a greater appreciation for the unique qualities of each destination. While it may not be practical or possible for everyone to repeat their travels to the same extent that I have, I believe that there is value in revisiting the places that speak to us and that we feel a strong connection to.

Overall, my travels have been an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience, and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to visit so many amazing places around the world. While I may not have had the chance to visit every single country, I have no regrets and have cherished the experiences and memories I have gained from my journey so far.

How long have I been traveling? How long was I on the road?

I have been traveling for a significant portion of my life, and have spent an average of 6 months on the road per year. This means that over the course of the past 20 years, I have spent approximately 10 years traveling and exploring different parts of the world. While this lifestyle has its challenges, it has also been incredibly rewarding and has allowed me to see and experience so much.

One of the things that I love about travel is the sense of freedom and possibility that it brings. Being on the road allows me to break free from the constraints of everyday life and to experience the world in a different way. It has also given me the opportunity to meet new people, try new things, and learn about different cultures. While I have had my share of challenges and difficulties along the way, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything. Traveling has truly been one of the greatest joys of my life, and I am grateful for every opportunity I have had to hit the road and discover new places.

What is the main focus of my travels?

My travels are mainly focused on people, history, and nature. I have a particular interest in dusty and warm countries, and I enjoy visiting ancient desert cities and getting to know the friendly locals. In addition to immersing myself in the local culture, I also like to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites and explore the rich history and natural beauty of the places I visit. To date, I have had the opportunity to visit 329 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and I have a particular love for petroglyphs and castles.

Overall, my travels are driven by a desire to learn, discover, and connect with the world around me. Whether I am exploring ancient ruins, learning about local customs, or simply soaking up the beauty of the natural world, I am always seeking new ways to deepen my understanding of the world and to have meaningful experiences. So, the main focus of my travels is people, history, and nature.

What are my top five most preferred countries?

When it comes to my top preferred countries, there are a few destinations that really stand out in my mind. Here are my top five:

Morocco – This colorful and exotic kingdom is one of my favorite places to visit due to its welcoming and positive people, rich history, and diverse landscape.

Turkey – This country is incredibly rich and diverse, with amazing food and friendly people. Its long history and varied culture make it a fascinating place to explore.

Portugal – As my home country, Portugal holds a special place in my heart. It is full of history, great food, and humble people, and is also home to the most heritage sites per square kilometer in Europe.

Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan – This mountain region captures my attention with its incredible landscapes and unique culture.
Brazil – With friendly people, good food, and an incredible range of diversity, Brazil is a place that I always enjoy visiting. The Amazon regions and the Portuguese heritage architecture found throughout the country are especially captivating.

A few other countries that I also hold dear are Afghanistan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, and Iran, each of which has its own unique charm and culture.

Which is my most preferred country for travel and why?

Of all the countries I have had the opportunity to visit, Morocco is by far my most preferred destination for travel. Despite living and working in Morocco for more than 16 years, I still feel like I am on the road whenever I am there. The colors, the smiling people, the rich gastronomy, the breathtaking landscapes, and the overall feeling of safety and being welcomed by the Moroccan people make this country an incredibly special place to me.

One of the things I love most about Morocco is its vibrant culture and diverse landscapes. From the ancient medinas and kasbahs of the country’s cities, to the sweeping deserts and snowy mountains, there is always something new and exciting to discover. The Moroccan people are also a major part of what makes this country so special to me. They are warm, friendly, and hospitable, and always make me feel welcome.

Overall, Morocco is a place that I will always hold dear and will continue to visit and explore for years to come. It is a country that has so much to offer and that never ceases to surprise and delight me. So, Morocco is my top favorite country for travel.

What is the single best lesson I have learned about the world during my travels?

During my travels, I have learned so much about the world and about myself. One of the single best lessons I have learned is that traveling means exploring the unknown and discovering new things. For me, traveling is not about finding myself or achieving specific goals, but rather about seeing new things and meeting different people and cultures. I believe that travel helps to broaden our horizons and to expose us to new perspectives and experiences.

One of the things that I love about travel is the sense of adventure and excitement that it brings. I get great satisfaction from being on the road and from experiencing new things, especially when there is a bit of an adventure involved. While traveling can be challenging at times, it is also incredibly rewarding and helps to reinforce and challenge our convictions in ways that no other experience can.

Through my travels, I have also learned that at our core, we are all the same. Regardless of where we come from or what our background is, we all smile, cry, love our families, and enjoy life. Travel has helped me to understand and connect with people from all walks of life, and has pushed me to the limits in my understanding of humanity. Overall, I believe that travel is a truly enriching and transformative experience that has the power to broaden our horizons and deepen our understanding of the world around us.

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