The cover is what first caught my attention. As some readers may know, Gareth and I visited the Finnish Arctic Circle in 2012 in the hope of seeing the Aurora Borealis. Unfortunately, although we had a fantastic time, the pyrotechnics of the arctic sky was obscured by a perpetual cloud cover while we were there. I left Finland with a need to see the Northern Lights that grows more persistent as the days, months, years pass by. So this image of a solitary camper gazing at the green-lit night sky immediately drew my eye.
Lonely Planet's Great Adventures is a truly special book. I don't consider myself an adventurer, not in the context of this book in any case, but I enjoyed reading about all the possibilities out there to make your trip an unforgettable one.
From swimming with whale sharks in South Africa to driving the world's deadliest road in Bolivia to racing a rickshaw in India to cycling through Vietnam, this book is sure to have at least a handful of things that you'd want to add to your bucket list. I, for one, want to do almost everything mentioned under the Animals section! I want to see pandas in China, wolves in Yellowstone and gorillas in Uganda. And that's just the figurative tip of the iceberg.
The book is divided into nine sections: Hike, Dive, Bike, Above & Below, Climb, Ice & Snow, Animals, Water, and Drive. Each adventure is marked out on a map to provide context, accompanied by gorgeous full-colour photos, essential experiences checklist and a recommended reading list that has seen me add at least twenty other books to my must-read pile. The prose is short but evocative and had me yearning to visit places I had only the faintest interest in before.
If I'm honest, many of the adventures are for outdoorsy, fit and active people, not people like me who like to lie on the couch and read about others climbing Everest or riding the Tour de France, but there are some that even I would make the effort to get fit for. I would love to dog-sled the Yukon, do a camel trek in Wadi Rum, sail Croatia's Dalmatian coast and white-water sledge the ice cold rivers of New Zealand. Who knew you could cycle the Camino de Santiago or raft at the source of the Nile?
If anything, this book has been an eye-opener. For any traveller, armchair or otherwise, Great Adventures might just awaken a spirit of adventure that could become hard to deny.
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Labels: book review