The interest in the narrative and ideological parameters of travel writing,1 which has been an important feature of the Western European and North American academic contexts over the last fifteen years or so, is undoubtedly a reflection of the unique position of the genre as an area thematising and problematising cultural difference and otherness and as a meeting point of varying discourses of gender, race/ethnicity, class, power, domination and counter-domination. Travel narratives have played a key role in current theoretical debates in postcolonial studies, feminism, cultural studies and comparative literature. To my mind, a considerable number of the critical texts that they have engendered in those fields, appear to privilege a particular analytical strategy focusing on the interpretation of what Laura E. Ciolkowski has termed ‘gender-coded visual power’ (1998: 343). This power operates through the travelling subject’s gaze, which is intent upon the construction of the relatively stationary object(s) of his/her observation. By persistently privileging the analysis of the gaze critics have tended to ignore and even erase other aspects of the complex processes of mediation and negotiation in which travellers and ‘travellees’ are involved.