The travel writer cuts a familiar figure: a bookish wanderer, footloose with notepad and pen, scrambles up mountains and across cities “discovering.” He is bright, dashing and highly educated. He is white, middle-class and, often, British. Taming unruly lands with his civilised words, he shapes Western visions of far-flung places and those who live in them. Admirers call his writing evocative; critics call it neocolonial. Over the past two centuries, this figure often cast such a large shadow across travel writing that it seemed there was no room for others. But ideas of travel writing are changing. Readers want more diverse voices. And women are, and always have been, great explorers. Here are six of the best books about travel by female writers

Mary Kingsley was one of those formidable Victorian ladies who scythed through jungles with parasols and waded into swamps wearing long skirts, high collars and a necklace of leeches. For “Travels in West Africa”, published in 1897, Kingsley made her way across western and equatorial Africa, becoming the first European to enter parts of Gabon and the first woman to climb Mount Cameroon. Her writing is direct, practical and remarkably sanguine; after falling 15 feet onto nine 12-inch spikes in a game pit, she remarks: “It is at these times you realise the blessing of a good thick skirt.” Not only a great adventurer, she was also an eloquent admirer of West Africa who challenged many contemporary prejudices. For her, it was “a wall of dancing white, rainbow-gemmed surf playing on a shore of yellow sand”, “a great mangrove-watered bronze river” or “a vast aisle in some forest cathedral” saying always “Come back, come back, this is your home.”

 Source : Economist