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The Frankincense tree

What a fascinating old scraggy tree in the middle of nowhere!

It’s a Frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra) in Dhofar, southern Oman, growing on the edge of the Empty Quarter.

To collect Frankincense, the bark is cut with a knife and the resin that oozes out hardens into little ‘tears’. Its healing qualities have been known since 7,000 BC and it was one of the gifts the wise men gave to baby Jesus, at a time when it was worth its weight in gold. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used as a deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum and as a natural pest repellent warding off mosquitoes.

Roman Catholic church goers will recognise the smell and doctors are now exploring its possible uses in cancer treatments.


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I’ve been writing about travel for the past 14 years and have travelled extensively from [A]ustralia to [Z]imbabwe. I’ve been around the world a few of times and have written widely for the international press in America, Australia and the UK, for newspapers, magazines and websites.I am also the author of a definitive guide to Wildlife Conservation Volunteering (Bradt, 2012) and have worked on volunteer projects in South America, Africa, India and Europe. Working from a riverboat on the Amazon has to be my favourite conservation project – a bit of comfort and luxury at the end of the day after getting filthy ploughing through the muddy jungle.I think the best way of getting around is travelling by train, not just because it’s eco-friendly but because I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I’ve written a lot about train travel and am a contributing author to Great Railway Journeys of the World (Time Out 2009). My enthusiasm for travelling on trains culminated in 2011 – 2012 when I travelled around the world by train - from London to Sydney. This was the most amazing trip I’ve ever done and I spent three months because I couldn’t stop myself getting off to explore what couldn’t be seen from the window.Naturally it’s now a book!



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