I suppose we all have one, and even if it’s not written down on an official list it resides up there in grey matter, buffeted by a multitude of daily chores, soap-opera plots and countless other bits of mundane information, like this: there is approximately one chicken for every human being in the world. Which begs the question – whose have I been eating all this time?
The first book I remember that truly inspired me was Readers Digest: Our Magnificent Wildlife. It presented a world of splendour and mystique, of a secrecy that man rarely glimpses. In later years I came across Jim fowler’s Wildest Places on Earth in a publishers clearance store. I think it was this book that helped to reconnect me to the natural world, and I really wish I could reproduce some of the pictures in that book on this blog. I will, however, run the risk of quoting from the foreword in this book:
‘The wildest places are not that way just because of their appearances. They are wild because they embody the eyes of a tiger, the roar of a lion or the wings of an eagle, as well as the hot, hanging clouds of the jungle, the pure ice poles or the deep blue waves of the sea. Wildness is apparent in the moon, the sun and the stars.’
-Jim Fowler, from Wildest Places on Earth
It’s probably a given that I won’t get to see most of the places Jim visited, but I can relate to his words…and the spirit of the wilderness still clings on in fragments to this man-made world I know.
So, here is my list:
It’s criminal I haven’t been already, and as I intend getting up there this year, I’ll actually be able to cross something off the list!
9.Great Barrier Reef
I could have easily put down Australia as a whole, but ever since I saw Into the Blue I’ve had a great desire to go diving. Yes, I know, it wasn’t filmed anywhere near the barrier reef, and that it’s highly unlikely Jessica Alba would go with me…!
Featured in Wildest Places on Earth, Roraima was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (I also recently learned that Jurassic Park was not, in fact, based on true events!). Its flat-topped peak rises 9,093 feet above the forests that are home to the elusive harpy eagle, and Angel Falls plummets from a sandstone mountain in the same range.
7. African Safari
Although I’ve since arrived at an age where I don’t believe in Tarzan, I grew up watching his cartoon and film adventures in the jungle. There’s so much more to Africa than jungle though, and the abundance of wildlife on the African savannah must be a wonder to behold.
Frozen pizza, burgers, oven chips, frozen peas…oops, that’s the wrong list…and the wrong Iceland. However, the land of ice and fire deserves a place on my bucket list all the same. Some of the landscapes seem from a fantasy world of volcanoes and glaciers, and what better place to see the northern lights than from a natural geothermal spa?
There’s something eerily beautiful about the mid-west of America, from the big skies to the strange rock formations that have featured in many Hollywood movies. I would love to travel this area, perhaps culminating in a whitewater ride down the Colorado River and a visit to the Grand Canyon. If pictures can be so awe-inspiring imagine the real thing.
I blame Gentle Ben for my childhood urge to own a bear. Now that I’m older I’m aware of how cruel that would have been. Still, my love of bears hasn’t waned and I would love to get a close (well, reasonably close) look at them in their natural habitat. The re-introduction of wolves into the park, and the geysers Yellowstone is famous for only add to my desire to go there.
There is only one reason that India features on my list: tigers. I’m sure there is much more to India, but without the tiger would there be enough will to preserve the wilderness areas that are threatened by the needs of over a billion people? Let’s hope we never find out.
1.Tierra del Fuego
Top of my list, and I have Jim Fowler’s book to thank for this. If I was allowed to choose only one place then it would be here, just for a chance to see the world’s largest flying bird soaring through the Andes.
So, that’s my list for now, but I’d love to hear what’s on yours, or of the wild places you’ve already visited.