Welcome to the Backpacker Diaries, a travel journal

Congratulations!  Somehow you stumbled across the Backpacker Diaries amidst all the white noise of the World Wide Web!

Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home; if you like travelling, I'm sure I have a story that you'll enjoy...


If you could go anywhere, where would you choose?  Let the Backpacker Diaries South East Asia pages take you on a series of vicarious adventures: from the vibrant tangle of waterways, expressways, streets and sois of Bangkok to the remote jungles of Borneo; staying in isolated longhouses with Iban tribesmen whilst following in the footsteps of head-hunters; spotting wild orang-utans on a Kinabatangan River safari; or just kicking back on a pristine white sand beach somewhere.

Climb aboard my virtual tuc-tuc for a backpacker's view of South East Asia... Read the rest


A clap of thunder tore through the charged atmosphere like a starter's pistol. It was quickly followed by the irregular, staccato beat of heavy raindrops clattering against the thin, tin roof of the climber's shelter.  Soon an unremitting arsenal of liquefied bullets was hammering down on the corrugated roof, threatening to distort its smooth undulations into a ragged, dimpled finish. At this point, we had not even passed through the gate into Kilimanjaro National Park, but already the mountain was squaring up to us.

Climb with me as I pick up the gauntlet and hike through Kilimanjaro's diverse climatic zones... Read the rest 


As the train jolted to a halt, I stirred from a restless doze. Dazzling sunlight flung mirages across the arid, gently rolling contours of Spain's central plateau and I basked in the promise of long, sunny days walking forgotten trails through the high mountains.  A week later, I crouched beneath the edge of a large boulder as clouds rolled by in never ending waves.  The view was mesmerising but my cramped accommodation beneath the boulder was, quite literally, a shit-hole.

Walk with me as I relive the highs and lows of a long distance trek through the Pyrenees' high altitude wilderness... Read the rest


The view as we flew over the Kenyan border was to die for: On our left, Kilimanjaro jutted majestically above its cloud skirt, whilst looking the other way gave us our first mesmerising view of Mount Meru’s cavernous caldera and knife-edge summit ridge. Months of anticipation turned to a buzz of excitement as our eyes wandered to its summit...

Follow in my footsteps as I trek to Meru's snow dusted summit: precipitous ridges, stunning vistas and a face to face encounter with a wild giraffe... Read the rest


The driver of the ‘flying coffin’ was called Marc. His T-shirt read: ‘I live with fear every day but sometimes she lets me race.’  He drove the boat like it was a jet-ski and as we leaned into yet another of the river’s snaking hairpin bends, I began to think that this might turn out to be the most dangerous part of the trip. A thought all the more poignant, considering that we were heading for the infamous headhunters' trail of Borneo.

Dive with me into the clash of cultures along the trails and waterways of inland Borneo... Read the rest

South Africa Backpacking


What do you know about the world's second largest continent?  Aids, wars, poverty and famine? Mud huts and long-drop toilets?  Discover the Africa behind the headlines as I re-live four months travelling with locals through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and Lesotho...  Jump aboard for a kaleidoscopic overland from Great Zimbabwe's medieval ruins to South Africa's gold mines; dining along the way on lake flies, caterpillars and a local brew resembling alcoholic porridge.

Check back soon to discover a whole new Africa.

Yosemite Backpacking


Hitchhiking and wilderness trekking up and down the West Coast, from Los Angeles to Seattle and then to Mexico. Dining on freshly caught trout beside a remote mountain lake or on sizzling tacos at a roadside stall; drinking in grunge bars with live music or from mountain springs to the sound or birdsong; drugged up, gun weilding loons on the open road and miles of breathtaking scenery on the wilderness trails.  Or the wild bear encounter in the middle of the night - now there's a story...

Check back soon for a fresh perspective of North America... 

Headhunters' Trail & Mount Meru images © Jon Bigg; all rights reserved.

Other images sourced from Wikimedia and reproduced under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence.

About this site

Backpacking (bӑk’pӑk’ῐng) adj

1. the combined activity of hiking and camping using a backpack to carry all the supplies and equipment needed for surviving one or more days on the trail.  Backpackers often venture into remote wilderness areas far beyond where cars or boats are able to travel.

2. a form of low-cost, independent, international travel, generally for a sustained length of time.  Backpackers seek to experience the destination culture in a depth not achieved by short-stay holidaymakers.

The Backpacker Diaries (thә-bӑk’pӑk’әr-dῑ’ә-rēs) n

An online travel journal narrating backpacking ventures of both types.  The Backpacker Diaries recount travel tales from North America, Europe, Africa and South East Asia.


About the author

Jon Bigg lives in Tanzania with his wife and four young children.  He started this online journal to share miscellaneous travel experiences diarised over a number of years.

By profession, Jon teaches high school science, physics and maths but he has also written online travel articles for Simonseeks.

Previously, he has worked in Europe, South East Asia and the Middle East.

He has travelled extensively in all those regions as well as to North America and Australia. If you enjoy this site, please add comments or share it with your friends.

Jon Bigg solo trekking in the Mulanje Massif, Malawi.

Solo trekking in the Mulanje Massif, Malawi (October 1999)

Links, etc

Thanks for visiting!

This site is in its infancy; more stories will be added soon.

Use the links above to navigate to the opening pages.  More pages will gradually appear.

To hear about new material follow:

@jonniebigg (Twitter) or          Backpacker Diaries (Facebook)

There are some more links below, which will take you to my other work.  I hope you enjoy this site; please share it with friends. 

BLOG - LIFE IN AFRICA                 Shadow of Kilimanjaro

ONLINE TRAVEL GUIDES www.simonseeks.com

BBC WORLD SERVICE DESPATCH    From our own correspondent


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