The Tourist Trail

Below, enjoy a book review of The Tourist Trail by John Yunker, written by KMIV guest blogger-at-large Liz Longacre, founder of Your Time Travels, an animal-friendly travel company. The Tourist Trail is a literary thriller about endangered species in the world's most remote areas, and those who put their lives on the line to protect them. To learn more about the book and read an excerpt from it, visit:

“Fortitudine Vincimus - By endurance, we conquer.”  
- The Tourist Trail

John Yunker’s novel, The Tourist Trail, is an epic thriller about the often unnoticed heroes who devote their lives to protecting animals. The book’s vibrant multidimensional characters and seamless plot twists will keep you captivated from start to finish. You’ll want to soak this book up in just a few days. The Tourist Trail was inspired by the author, John Yunker’s, trip to the Patagonia region of Argentina, where he volunteered with The Penguin Project. The book is based on the award winning short-story he wrote after his volunteer work.  

The Tourist Trail chronicles the lives of various characters from extremely different walks of life whose worlds intertwine to reveal their shared destiny – to protect animals. Some of these characters live and breathe their passion for animals, allowing it to drive their every decision and relationship. They’d give their lives for their cause without asking for anything in return. Other characters find themselves drawn into to this world unexpectedly as the situations they’re faced with cause them to question their own sense of morality.

Angela Haynes, the biologist, spends a few months of each year living amongst the penguins during penguin breeding season on the beach at Punta Verde, Argentina. Her beloved colony continually declines in number as they now have to travel hundreds of miles out to sea to find food for their awaiting mates and chicks as a result of modern fishing practices that have wiped the nearby waters clean of any fish. On their journey many penguins get caught in enormous fishing lines and remain the under-reported bycatch of the fishing industry. Angela’s particular love and devotion to an endearing missing penguin named Diesel pulls at your heart strings and represents the danger in getting so close to an animal whose species is subject to such peril.  

Angela is so devoted to her penguin colony and tracking their numbers that she finds little time or interest in human relationships. This devotion leads to a relatively isolated life until one day a mysterious man floats up on her shore. Luckily for him, Angela has “a soft spot for strays” but what she didn’t know was how her structured world of tagging and tracking penguins day in and day out was about to change.  

Robert is an undercover agent with a troubled history that plagues his dreams and his own sense of self-identity. His mission is to capture Aeneas, the burly captain of the anti-whaling ship, The Arctic Tern, who constantly outsmarts and evades him. Aeneas lives to wage war on fishing vessels and the unpaid volunteers on his ship would follow him to the grave and back if it meant animals would be saved in the process. The author’s descriptive accounts of the battles at sea will leave you feeling like you too are on the front lines right alongside Aeneas – Whale Wars fans, this book is for you! Aeneas’s unflagging passion seems to sustain him while he lives on a diet of whiskey and Blow Pops and proves he wouldn’t even eat a piece of meat if he were starving. His driving sense of purpose is fueled by our world’s run amok fishing practices. As Aeneas so eloquently puts it:  

“Fisherman don’t fish anymore. They slaughter, obliterate, expunge. They use vacuums, for fuck’s sake. That’s not fishing. That’s extermination.”

Underlying messages throughout The Tourist Trail reveal ironies that mimic our world’s often misplaced values. Aeneas is labeled as a “terrorist” and is pursued by FBI agents as such while poachers kill whales in protected waters right in front of authorities with no fear of repercussion. Angela expresses her detest for superficial tourists who visit the penguin colony just to take photos but not learn anything real about their plight; yet it’s this very mass tourism that keeps these breeding colonies protected while out in the ocean “fishermen kill a thousand penguins a month, and nobody hears a word.” You’re also constantly reminded of our world’s ever present paradox whereby most people would never directly participate in animal suffering yet our everyday choices are what drive the abundant out-of-sight out-of-mind atrocities committed upon them. 

“Animals take only what they need to live, and sometimes less. Humans have buffet lines.”

It’s this very paradox that drives even the most unlikely characters in the book to risk their lives to protect animals. Robert, the agent hired to take down Aeneas the “terrorist”, often found himself conflicted with his job and the alluring identity of those fighting so passionately for a cause, a cause that he himself seemed to become more and more drawn to. Throughout the book he can never escape the nagging feeling that he was on the wrong side of the law. After watching Japanese whalers brutally harpoon a mother whale and string its withering body up against the side of the ship while its hovering baby unknowingly awaited its own death at Japanese hands, Robert makes an unlikely move he’ll soon come to regret.  

And then there’s Ethan Downes, a computer tech who falls madly in love with an unlikely match, a passionate animal activist. Ethan’s path throughout the book starts as an introverted, don’t break the rules, living within the box kind of a guy who “lived his life with the comfort of a nearby undo button” and had no interest in animal rights. Through a series of unlikely events he later finds that his destined path is to take down a Japanese whaling vessel in an extremely dangerous mission.    
Author John Yunker

Animal rights activists are often portrayed by our world as a subset of extremists yet watching these characters develop in such unexpected ways demonstrates the reality that most people, even those without a passion for animals, would fight like hell to protect them if confronted face to face with the brutal atrocities men inflict on them. If only people could foresee their own sense of morality when things are kept at a distance perhaps everyone would be an animal rights activist. 

The Tourist Trail is an exciting saga full of plot twists, romance and non-stop danger. As the book progresses, the lives of the characters begin to intertwine and the emotional twists and turns become just as enveloping for the reader as the dangerous battles at sea. The book’s drama at sea and on land could capture the attention of any audience, not just animal lovers; although you may become one, or at least understand one better, after you read this book. If you are passionate about animal welfare, this story will speak to your own inner warrior and strengthen your sense of pride in being part of a movement so grounded in basic humane morality. No matter what your stance is on animal welfare, you’ll be left with a greater appreciation for the war we should all be fighting – defending Mother Nature against the greed that is destroying her.

To learn more about the book and read an excerpt from it, visit:

Liz Longacre is the founder of Your Time Travels, a travel company for animal lovers. Liz has been a lover of all creatures large and small for as long as she can remember. Her company provides animal friendly travel adventures that give back to animals and celebrate them. Whether you want to volunteer abroad with animal welfare projects (while mixing in some exciting sightseeing/adventure activities and fabulous hotel stays!), observe animals in their natural habitats through safari adventures, enjoy amazing vegetarian/vegan resorts, visit a farm sanctuary or travel with your own adorable pets, her company can get you there! You can keep up with Liz and all her furry crusades at her blog:  or through her facebook page.


That book sounds great!
I love resources. That book sounds great! Right now I'm reading "Oogy" by Larry Levin. Got my kleenex box ready...
Animal Friendly Tourism in Nepal
As the part of responsible tourism, Nepal Footprint Hoiday (P) Ltd. core team decided not to operate Elephant Safari Tour on Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park from 2015. Our contribution to the animal right and nature is not against wildlife safari in Nepal but we raise strong voice for the animal friendly tourism in Nepal. For details to know about the animal friendly tourism in Npeal, please check
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