Unforgettable Journeys to Take Before You Die

Unforgettable Journeys to Take Before You Die

by Steve Watkins, Clare Jones


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Thirty journeys that really are better than the destinations.

There are many amazing places to see and a host of exciting things to do once you get there, but for some destinations the journey is the most exhilarating part of all.

In Unforgettable Journeys to Take Before You Die international travel writers and photographers Steve Watkins and Clare Jones draw on their years of experience to select thirty of their favorite "trips of a lifetime," including:

  • the mysterious Ruta Maya from Mexico to Honduras;
  • an expedition across Antarctica that follows in the footsteps of famed explorer Ernest Shackleton;
  • from Singapore to Bangkok on the luxurious Eastern and Oriental Express;
  • the famous and infamous Route 66 — a legendary road trip through the heart of America.

Lavishly illustrated with specially commissioned photographs, Unforgettable Journeys to Take Before You Die is a ticket to adventure that will inspire both armchair tourists and intrepid travelers with unusual and amazing experiences of a lifetime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554071388
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 04/01/2006
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.63(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Steve Watkins is a professional photographer and writer who covers travel, adventure sports, and cultural topics for publications including the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, Geographical, Global Adventure and the AA Adventure Travellers guidebooks. He co-authored Unforgettable Things to Do Before You Die with Clare Jones.

Clare Jones is a professional travel writer and photographer who has covered adventure activities across the globe. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Geographical and Global.

Table of Contents


  1. Riding the Okavango Delta, Botswana
  2. Ice Cap Trek, Argentina
  3. Driving Along Route 66, USA
  4. Following Reindeer, Sweden
  5. Yukon River Journey, Canada
  6. Tracing the Life of Gaudí, Spain
  7. Journey to the Sounds of Wine, New Zealand
  8. Sea Kayaking Cays, The Bahamas
  9. Along the Gibb River Road, Australia
  10. Canal du Midi, France
  11. The Silk Route, Beijing to Samarkand
  12. Tracking Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda
  13. Orissan Tribal Journey, India
  14. A Tall-ship Voyage, Italy
  15. By Rail Through Copper Canyon, Mexico
  16. Horse-drawn Caravan, Ireland
  17. Into the Ice Bear Kingdom,
  18. A Bohemian Journey, Czech Republic
  19. Walking with Wordsworth, England
  20. Trans-Mongolian Railway
  21. Driving the Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia
  22. The Eastern and Oriental Express
  23. Paddles and Pedals, Costa Rica
  24. Through the Patagonian Fjords, Chile
  25. Driving Through Fall Colors, USA
  26. On the Road to Mandalay, Myanmar
  27. La Ruta Maya, Mexico to Honduras
  28. Camino de Santiago, Spain
  29. Into the Sahara, Morocco
  30. Shackleton's Voyage, Antarctica
  31. Location Map



It is said that even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but nowadays it seems that many journeys can begin with something as simple as the click of a computer mouse. Blanket media coverage of travel and, perhaps more significantly, the internet have revolutionized our access to information about almost every destination on the planet, no matter how remote. We could be forgiven for thinking we have seen places and know all about them without ever leaving the comfort of our homes.

For some, the option to travel is not there and glimpsing the world through the eyes of others provides the next best thing. The truth, though, is that no matter how much web surfing you do, how many magazines, books or newspapers you read, or how many television travel shows you watch, there is no substitute for actually taking a journey yourself.

Whether you choose to take an icy voyage across the southern seas of Antarctica to bring to life the remarkable story of Ernest Shackleton and the crew of HMS Endurance, or perhaps go deep into the Rwandan jungle to track mountain gorillas, the experience of being there will far outstrip any preconceived ideas. No photograph can capture the bracing chill of a katabatic wind as it sweeps down from the heights of a deep-blue glacier, or convey the wonder of sitting beside a female gorilla who is cradling her newborn baby as a human would. As photographers, we can only hope to come close.

Knowing that this book could fall into the category of 'blanket media coverage,' we have tried to place it somewhere between that and actually being there. We hope we have provided an enjoyable bridge of inspiration, in images and words, that will encourage you to explore a new place, choose a different type of holiday or finally book that dream trip. As with the other books in the
Unforgettable series, we have tried, above all, to keep a sense of reality. The journeys we describe are available to anyone, and we took our photographs on the hoof. We simply didn't have time to wait for days or weeks in the same spot for just the right light, much as we may have wanted to.

Researching, organizing and travelling for this book has been both challenging and immensely rewarding. If the experiences of the people we've met along the way are anything to go by, many readers will have already made one or several of the journeys described here — some lucky ones may have done most of them, and more besides. And everyone will have their own personal favorite journey that didn't make it into these pages. Our fellow travelers certainly did, and the sometimes heated discussions we enjoyed with them showed us that the spirit of adventure, and the inherent human desire to journey and explore, are well and truly alive.

It seems, too, that there is an ever-growing collective consciousness of just how fragile and already scarred the Earth is, and how it is our pressing responsibility to ensure that its wild and beautiful places and creatures are protected. We cannot justify tourism if that tourism is itself one of the factors that is endangering the very sights we wish to see. If we want to travel in ever-greater numbers, we have to accept increasingly managed and controlled interactions with our destinations. Thankfully, the organizations that govern tourist activities understand this and are working hard to strike the right balance between conservation and delivering an unforgettable experience. It can be achieved, but it helps if we, as travelers, take our share of the responsibility and go with a flexible mindset and a light tread. It is easy to understand the disappointment if that elusive lion or polar bear just isn't synchronizing with your often costly itinerary.
However, demanding guaranteed encounters and experiences puts increasing pressure on tour operators to compromise their environmental and conservation standards — the start of an inevitable downward spiral. Our actions count and have a substantial impact; there is no better time than this to realize that it is the journey itself, both physical and mental, with its inherent uncertainty, that is the destination.

For this book we wanted to include not just classic journeys, such as Route 66 or the Camino de Santiago, but also lesser-known ones, such as following the reindeer migration with the Sámi people of northern Sweden and a horse-riding safari in Botswana. The list is in no way definitive, and neither is it ordered in any sort of ranking priority. The map on pages 252-3 shows the locations of all the journeys featured.

Among our many memories, the ones that stand out most are perhaps the less obvious ones. Waking up on the
Patagonian ice cap in a small tent that was being battered by ferocious winds (an alarm call that deserves to be ignored] and, on finding the courage to leave our warm sleeping bags, poking our heads out to be greeted by the most glorious orange, red and blue light show dancing across the granite spires of the Fitz Roy Massif — a fleeting moment that would have been so easy to miss. Talking to a fellow passenger in Antarctica who, eight years earlier, had been given three months to live by doctors, yet refused to accept the inevitable and found ways to overcome his illness, deciding there and then to grasp every opportunity to do what he had always wanted to do in life. The woman in Canada who, instead of flying, took the arduous, two-day train journey back from Churchill to Winnipeg to retrace the route her mother had taken decades earlier. Travelling has never been so accessible; but the journeys we undertake are still as personal, challenging and fulfilling as they were on the day Shackleton set sail on Endurance.

Steve Watkins and Clare Jones, 2006

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