Hidden in the dust storm… Rediscovering travel with Shamit Patel
Shot straight out of your wildest imagination, our traveler of interest is quite easily mistaken for Vikings TV series’ Ragnar Lothbrock! Hold on… If you got lost in his appearance, you’ll miss a chance to experience the tales of his captivating conquests in the unexplored northern frontiers of Kenya. He is only one out of the fantastic four behind the amazing idea called ‘Routes’… he is kind, he is forthright, he is a giver, and so much more… meet Shamit Patel.
1. Before running on to the not so obvious… I think you totally nailed the unconventional Bohemian look, would we be wrong to say you watch too much TV? Vikings maybe?
Haha, you called it. I do watch a lot of Vikings. It’s one of my favorite shows and even before the show, I was always fascinated with the Vikings and Norse Mythology in general. The Vikings were true explorers. Embarking upon voyages across oceans that no one else had traversed. They were fearless and curious and adventurous and that is how I believe everyone should navigate this life. My look changes a lot. I have had many different looks. I believe that it’s not how you look but the content of you mind that should determine someone’s outlook of you.
I like to look different because it challenges people. People are uncomfortable with things that are out of the norm. But hopefully when they hear me talk, it changes their opinion. And hopefully that serves to break some stereotypes.
2. On a scale of 1 – 10, how strict would you say your parents were?
My parents were strict when I was much younger but not to the level of completely nullifying my creativity by instilling fear. They were and are the fundamental pillar of love in my life. From my mother, I learn patience and serenity. From my father, I learn wisdom and the value of silence in a noisy world. On a scale of 1-10, I’d consider them a 5. But it took a while for them to understand my mind and our relationship has evolved through the years. They don’t always agree with my life choices but they make an effort to understand me and that means the world.
3. If we were to equate you travels to an animal, would you consider yourself the solitary leopard, or the pack of wolves?
It’s funny you should ask this because over the past few days I’ve been wondering what animal I relate to the most and two that kept coming through my mind were wolves and tigers. I don’t really know. I’m a social person but I also crave solitude. In the wild, I like to share those special moments like beautiful sunsets or miraculous new places with people I am close to. But I also like to have the silence of the wild to myself. So to answer the question, it would be some strange species in the middle of leopard and wolf.
4. Tell us about Routes…
Routes is something that has been created as a project of passion. Three years ago, a few friends who became like family decided to come together and build a platform that would showcase this country through their eyes. We initially begun as a TV show but due to many complications and brick walls, less than a year ago, we decided to gravitate into online distribution of our travel content. We are now a community of creatives who have come together to show travel and adventure as never before seen in this country. Routes Adventure is a way to show that people can travel on the cheap, that people can go to the places we go to. It’s about shifting the perception of a preordained lifestyle.
We release our videos primarily on our YouTube channel called Routes Adventure and distribute pictures through our Instagram channel @RoutesAdventure. We aim to build this community into something wonderful that inspires, educates and informs the masses about our style of travel and in doing so, we hope to boost domestic tourism.
5. In all your travels, what has stood out for you, and helped you learn something different about the world we live in?
Everyone will always answer this question in a positive light. I feel like we need to tackle it from a different angle. In all my travels, I’ve learned of the human race’s insatiable ability for destruction. We destroy forests and pollute rivers and from the north of Kenya to the south of Kenya, I’ve witnessed the most isolated of places strewn with discarded plastic bags carried with the wind. We’ve encountered tribes living in isolated areas who do not take care of the very land that sustains them. I’ve learned that our appetite for civilization is going to consume nature until there’s none left. It’s a scary prospect but it’s real and it needs to be talked about because this world we live in is a beautiful place but we’re not doing our part in taking care of it. It sounds generic but it’s as simple as that. And one thing I’ve learned is that you can only change the world if you see it first. We must acknowledge the bad to be able to do the good.
6. Do you think your experiences in different places of the world have taught you how to see things differently?
Yes, definitely. In the question above, I mentioned something negative about what I’ve seen while traveling but there are also so many wonderful things to be proud and happy about. It’s the other end of the spectrum but we’ve witnessed such compassion amongst many people we’ve met. I’ve seen things that I never thought I would and they have opened my mind up. When you live in a city and grow up in a concrete cage filled with chaos, you don’t have time to appreciate the little things in life. Like fresh air for example. Or the trees dancing in the morning wind. Or a sunrise that evokes all the emotion in your mind. And so yes, definitely…travel allows you to live every moment. Your mind is stimulated all the time. You live instead of just passing the time.
7. If you were to talk about your opinion on touring different places and communities of the world, would you consider travel to be a window or mirror?
I feel like we start of as a blank canvas. Again, that sounds generic as hell but as you travel, the brushstrokes of the places and people you meet paint a picture of your personality. Therefore, I’d say that travel is more of a window where what you see influences your ideology on life and love and everything in between. Mirrors show you what you are. I am nothing if I don’t see things and therefore I consider travel to be a beautiful little window.
8. What’s your favorite pre-flight ritual/experience when you are headed out for a long trip?
It’s funny but I don’t really have anything that I do before heading out. It has become so common to go on long trips that I’ve lost any little superstitious rituals that I may have had a long time ago. I just get really excited and usually can’t sleep much the night before because of the anticipation of being on the road into the wild.
9. Are you a choreographed traveler, or the spontaneous kind?
Definitely more spontaneous rather than choreographed. However, due to the work we do with Routes, I’ve found that we have to plan our trips out quite well because of filming, timing and other factors. However, if it was up to me and finances weren’t a concern, I’d be in the wind all the time. Not knowing what happens next is the most exhilarating feeling. Not just in travel but in life itself. Meticulously planning everything can be brain draining.
10. In your travelling snack pack, do you usually carry sandwiches or candy/chocolate bars? Would you share it with a random stranger?
I don’t eat much when I travel. Which is surprising because I’m usually a pig when it comes to food. I’d prefer sandwiches to chocolate bars though and of course I’d share it with a random stranger. Food is best when shared.
11. If you were to get lost in an exotic trip; would you rather be on a camel in the Sahara, or on a Boat in the Amazon?
Shit, this is a tough one. How about being on a boat in the Sahara and a camel in the Amazon? 😃
No, I don’t know which one I’d rather be on. The Sahara would offer stars like I’ve never seen before and the quiet calm of the desert. It would be not only traveling through the desert but through time itself and that’s something I’d love. The boat on the Amazon would be incredible because of all the diverse life that would surround me. So many creatures and plants and I feel like the energy would be something beautiful. Between sandy desolation and green energy, I don’t know which would be more beautiful in this context.
12. Is there such a thing as your favorite photo shot? Would you say you have one? Who/What was it of?
I have many photos I love. I don’t really have one that I’d say stands out for me. It’s honestly so damn difficult to capture some of the places we go to. Beauty like that isn’t meant for the screen.
14. What is the most amazing place/person you’ve (or wish to) ever experienced?
I haven’t been to the most amazing place yet. I don’t think I ever will. Every place has its aura, its own ethos. To find the most amazing place is part of the journey that every traveller is on. For example, I’d love to see the Earthrise from the horizon of the moon. Or hike the volcanoes of Hawaii. Or the northern lights over the vastness of the Northern plains. Still searching for that most amazing place. Not to say that the places I’ve gone to aren’t amazing in their own regard.
15. If you were to pick between being super attractive/handsome, exceptionally intelligent or to be famous for doing something amazing, what would you choose?
I think wanting to be super attractive is something silly. Your flaws are your beauty. Being exceptionally intelligent would be great because learning new things would be so much more simple. However, with exceptional intelligence comes the weight of constant thinking which often leads to depression. That’s why they always say that ignorance is bliss. And thirdly, fame is not an interesting factor. It is a transient ego boost that disappears with the next big story. I’d rather just be a combination of the three in smaller amounts and live happily ever after!
16. If time travel was possible, would you prefer a 3-day trip into your past or to your future? Why?
I’d go into the past because if I go into the future then I lose the element of spontaneity and will always be living in anticipation. However, by going into the past, I can unhurt those I have hurt and hopefully help people and myself find a little bit of peace.
17. What do you think is the best kept secret when it comes to travel destinations? Do you feel there’s one place that isn’t getting the attention it deserves?
I definitely feel as though the north of Kenya is a jewel which hasn’t been showcased as much as it should be. With Routes, we are going to try to do as much as possible to build as much awareness about what it has to offer. They aren’t really secrets but more that people have the perception that the north has always been inaccessible and dangerous, neither of which are currently true. I’d urge people to travel this country to see the places that exist before civilization creeps up and destroys all our beautiful places.
If you thought you’ve learnt everything about Sham… you are probably wrong! You haven’t even scratched the surface! Check out what he does with Routes, and maybe even ask to tag along to his trips in the North! Discover the hidden gem, veiled in a cloud of dust and desolation, that is the Northern Frontiers of Kenya!
Your friend definitely deserves to meet Shamit… sharing is caring! Spread the word!