'Expedition Unknown' Adventures as Travel Reviews

An ode to Josh Gates' unusual accommodations

As a 21st-century explorer, Josh chases ancient myths with cutting-edge technology. It’s clearly only a matter of time before he taps into the most powerful research tool known to scientists: online traveler reviews. His travels often consist of, er, unconventional lodging and adventurous eats you probably won't find in most travel guides. Here’s how some of his experiences seen in various Expedition Unknown episodes might read as (cue sinister organ music) User Experiences.

Cloud-Forest Cocktail - Ecuador (Season 2, "Incan King’s Mummy")

I wasn’t expecting craft mixology at Ecuadoran base camp as we tracked Atahualpa, but canelazo, a drink made with the local cinnamon-fruit liquor, was surprisingly respectable—and handy for altitude sickness! Rumor has it that it’ll eventually kill you, but in the meantime, nothing beats a warm margarita. I was floating on a cloud, or in a cloud, or something. 

The Center of the World? - Quito, Ecuador (Season 2, "Incan King’s Mummy")

This building might look like an ancient Incan temple, but it’s a modern tourist trap! GPS says the REAL “center of the world,” zero degrees latitude, is hundreds of feet north (down the street). Check out the killer view of Quito if you want, but keep in mind that you’re at the #fakequator. 

Motel Seis - Ecuador (Season 1, "City of Gold")

Strong points: This straw-covered room at the back of a Catholic church has a homey, rustic vibe, accommodates a large group well, and provides much-needed shelter from sudden storms at 13,000 feet. Unbeatable commute to Sunday mass, too! Drawbacks: The proprietor’s 12-year-old granddaughter is an utterly merciless foosball player. 

Incan Tater Tots - Peru (Season 1, "City of Gold")

Yes, the potatoes disintegrated as soon as I pulled them out of Lake Pumacocha and touched them. Yes, I’ve had better “aged” snacks (thousand-year eggs in Chinatown = amazeballs). Can you really say you’ve had the full fleeing-Pizarro’s-bloodthirsty-troops experience if you haven’t eaten ancient travelers’ discarded food, though? No, you can’t. 

SHOW UP EXTRA-EARLY! You and all of your luggage will be weighed and re-weighed in Kathmandu, and flights take off as early as possible to maximize their chances of leaving at all. Planes to Lukla are often 30-year-old twin-props. They fly so close to the mountains that pilots disable ground alerts, and a few planes crash on the airstrip every few years. That said, it beats La Guardia.

After an all-day, 1,500-foot climb, we were ready to crash at this cozy tea house and inn. Stock up on earplugs if you plan on getting a good night’s sleep—ain’t no party like a sherpa dance party, ‘cause a sherpa dance party don’t stop. (Ever. Bring ibuprofen, too.)

Market Shopping - Bhutan (Hunt for the Yeti pt. 3: "Out of Thin Air")

For a city that’s only had TV since 1999 (in a country that’s only been open to tourists for the last 40 years), Paro’s a surprisingly satisfying place to shop. If you plan on dressing as the locals do, pack underwear that’s fit to be seen; Paro tailors make you drop trou in the open. Go easy on lunch, too. Gho (for men) and kira (for women) are belted TIGHTLY.

With a game trail nearby, plenty of space and a springy bed of pine needles, this cave has an intriguing backstory (what kind of animal slept here?) and great potential as a back-to-nature B&B. Should come equipped with a motion sensor, though—glamping is amazing, but who wants to get their face ripped off in the middle of the night? 

Shopping - Kansas City, Missouri (Season 1, "The Legend of Jesse James")

Stocking up on 19th-century outlaw gear for your historical gun club? Planning a gig with your Neil Diamond tribute band? Do you just flat-out love statement wallets? You will not leave Kansas City empty-handed.  

Cement, Oklahoma (Season 1, "The Legend of Jesse James")

I can’t figure out if Cement is a ghost town or the next Marfa, but it’s my new favorite place to unplug AND recharge. If you want to get your history on, just call Mary Jackson; she’ll be right down to let you into the museum. Be sure to have a picnic in the middle of the street; it’s Instagram gold. 

Wicker Sled-Riding - Madeira, Portugal (Season 2, "Columbus: Legend or Liar?")

I’ve said for years that I should be treated like a fine wine, and on a hill in Portugal, it finally happened! (Sending rickety baskets hurtling downhill at 30 miles an hour doesn’t seem like the most reliable way to transport beverages or tourists, but “when in Madeira,” as they say. YOLO!) 

Rental Car - Cape Town, South Africa (Season 2, "Kalahari Desert’s Lost City")

With a complete kitchen, a roomy cooler and propane tanks for hot showers, this all-in-one, custom-fitted exploration vehicle was about a thousand times better than the dented hybrid we got the last time we road tripped through the Kalahari. 

Chez Josh - Kalahari Desert, South Africa (Season 2, "Kalahari Desert’s Lost City")

If you’re reasonably sure you’re at the top of the food chain for the time being, nothing beats world cuisine under the stars. Instant Cuban black beans and coconut served beside an African safety fire? Yes please.

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