At the very end of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, a young Alice awakens questioning the authenticity of her trip. Subtle clues point either way.
There are places on our planet that have had that same effect; places so extraordinary, they blur the distinction between reality and fantasy. They must be seen to be believed. And even when they are seen, we are left wondering.
This week, I asked my team to recount those experiences which bewitched them. Take a moment to explore these worlds with them and perhaps share your own with others, as a way of inspiring hope in these subdued times.
The world will return. Now is the time to dream, both about the past and the future.
Franz Josef Heli-hike
“As we walk further into the glacier it feels like we are the only people there, it is absolutely extraordinary. The richness of the blue where the ice is dense blows my mind. As I walk through the towering walls of ice I look up in awe at this beautiful natural wonder.”
Republic of Congo – A field of fireflies
“Sitting in the heart of the rainforest in Odzala, Republic of Congo was one thing I never thought I would be fortunate enough to do. It is a million miles from nowhere and seemed impossible to get to, yet with a couple of flights from London and a short 10-hour drive through the Republic of Congo, I was here in Odzala watching nature’s very own light show created by fireflies. This was just one of my many experiences in Odzala over my week-long visit and every time I think about my experience here my highlight changes.”
The Magic of Mongolia
“Mongolia, a vast yet glorious country. The gers are simple yet plenty. The food abundant and fresh. This doesn’t even start to describe the nomadic families I met nor the pleasure from riding on horseback through the steppe where Genghis Khan made his name. I am desperate to return and spend more time in this fascinating destination. Next time, it’s the eagles that I seek.”
“A 500-year-old pagan festival, in the highlands of Cameroon, brings together communities from across West Africa. A carnival of top hats, tails and tattoos, whirling dervishes and giant spiders. Crumbling palaces are home to secret societies, sorcerers and sultans. Hypnotic and surreal, join the pilgrims and pay your respects to the King. My most thrilling and surreal trip.”
The Majestic Mekong
“I sailed on the waters of just a tiny section of this grand river far from the source, high up in the Tibetan plateau. My journey began in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh and then on to the shores and villages of the Vietnam Delta all from my temporary home aboard the delightful Aqua Mekong. A kaleidoscope of fishing, markets, monks, farming and everyday life; a photograph around every corner.”
Chasing clouds in Namibia
“I travelled with my family and some friends through Namibia by car. We drove ourselves and due to the exiting roads and easy signposting, it was a very doable experience for us. There was something new to see and do every day. Exciting desert passes, through gorges and riverbeds. Hair-raising dune rides and magnificent vistas. Tasting delicious seafood, kayaking with seals and searching for desert-adapted elephants and rhinos were some of the highlights that made this one of my most memorable journeys.”
“Great Zimbabwe has the most extensive collection of ruins south of the Sahara, second only to the pyramids of Egypt. My ancestors, the Karanga were from this area. People in this area have a different dialect. I remember as we were growing up that my mother and her family, being Zezuru, found my Dad’s Karanga’s accent very strange. Great Zimbabwe is a great place to explore if you would like to know a bit more about the Karanga tribe.”
Carretera Austral: Taking the Long Road
“The Carretera Austral is one of the most remote and stunning off-piste road journeys in South America, if not the world. Starting from Puerto Montt, the 1270 km-long Carretera Austral road crosses over rivers, national parks, forests, fjords, glaciers and flower-filled mountains. It ends in Villa O’Higgins at the foot of the Southern Ice Field – also the largest in the world outside Antarctica and Greenland.”
India’s final frontier
“The stand-out travel experience of the last couple of years was my time in Nagaland visiting the Konyak tribe. I have a long-held fascination of tribes and their ways of living and am also very interested in the history of tattooing. The Konyak are best-known for headhunting and easily identified by their boar’s teeth necklaces and tattooed faces. They are happy to receive visitors but the experience feels less voyeuristic than meeting tribes in other destinations.”
Giants of Baja California
“A visit to the grey whale breeding lagoons on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula turned out to be the most memorable, impressive and moving wildlife experience I’ve had to date, and I’ve rubbed shoulders with a lot of creatures. The close, gentle and even intimate nature of this encounter was completely unexpected. Colloquially known as the “Devilfish” for their reputation as fierce fighters, grey whales were hunted to near extinction in the nineteenth century. To my surprise, mothers nosed their calves to the side of our small boat.”
The Forgotten North of Jaffna
“During my visit to the north of Sri Lanka I also visited Delft, a strange and intriguing little island where the pace of life is slow, the landscape reminded me of the isle of Gigha on the west coast of Scotland apart from the dry stone (or coral!) walls made from the dead brain and fan coral that neatly divide the land.”
Journeying through the Atlas Mountains
“A long and windy drive in a 4×4 took me through ever-changing landscapes from rocky escarpments, with boulders the size of buses, clinging precariously to the sides of the mountains; barren landscapes with colours changing from red to orange to brown and grey. Hillsides dotted with date palms and small Berber villages blend seamlessly with the colours of the land surrounding them.”
Driving the Karakorum Highway
“The Karakoram Highway is a masterpiece of engineering. Artistically painted Bedford lorries ply the road, expressing the feelings of drivers who travel away from home for long periods. Massive birds of prey soar overhead, ibex bask in the sun and villages nestle in the mountain valleys. With a history dating back millennia, Pakistan will keep the interest of almost anyone occupied for weeks. Whether strolling through bazaars or going for a trek there is amazing diversity in Pakistan which remains one of my favourite destinations.”
Nature’s superstructures in Argentina
“I turned to see a sizeable chunk of the front of the glacier breaking and crumbling into the lake below. Quite a sight to watch as huge lumps of ice fell creating large waves across the lake below. Oh to be quicker with one’s camera but I was not disappointed, it was great to have witnessed this, a memory that won’t be forgotten.”
My Favourite Place on Earth
“Diving back into British Columbia, I am back into the land I love. Mountain peaks shrouded by clouds rise from the blue waters of the Pacific. Teeming with wildlife, Dall’s porpoise can be seen dancing in the wake of our boat as we head out in search of my greatest prize – bears!”
Sensory Overload in South Georgia
” Three weeks out of the office? ‘You have got to send Sue to South Georgia – it will blow her mind’ were the words that convinced my manager that it would be worthwhile. This was true. South Georgia was way, way beyond my expectations, during my four days there it threw the full gambit of weather, luck, disappointment and emotions at me.”
Journeying through Jordan
“I would place Jordan at the top of anyone’s Middle Eastern bucket list, rifled with phenomenal landscapes, architecture and culture this was one of my favourite trips to dates. When you think of an iconic site like Petra there is often a fear that it won’t live up to your expectations, I can confirm that not only did this live up to the hype it absolutely exceeded it. Every detail is so beautifully preserved making it hard to believe it’s been standing all this time.”
Do you have a travel experience you’d like to recount with us? Please share them by email to [email protected] with a photo so we can share it on our email and social media.
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