Wanderlust Adventure Travel Book of the Year
Shark Drunk by Morten Strøksnes & translated by Tiina Nunnally
In the great depths surrounding the remote Lofoten islands in Norway lives the Greenland shark. Twenty-six feet in length and weighing more than a tonne, it can live for 200 years. Its fluorescent green, parasite-covered eyes are said to hypnotise its prey, and its meat is so riddled with poison that, when consumed, it sends people into a hallucinatory trance.
Armed with little more than their wits and a tiny rubber boat, Morten Strøksnes and his friend Hugo set out in pursuit of this enigmatic creature. Drawing on science, poetry, history, ecology and mythology, Shark Drunk is the story of their quixotic quest. Together, they tackle existential questions, experience the best and worst nature can throw at them, and explore the astonishing life teeming at the ocean’s depths.
Shark Drunk is, in part, the tale of two men in a very small boat on the trail of a very big fish. It is also a story of obsession, enchantment and adventure. Above all, it is a love song to the sea, in all its mystery, hardship, wonder and life-giving majesty.
Eastern Horizons by Levison Wood
Award-winning TV adventurer and travel writer's enthralling account of his youthful expedition to Central Asia.
Levison Wood was only 22 when he decided to hitch-hike from England to India through Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he wasn't the conventional follower of the hippy trail. A fascination with the deeds of the early explorers, a history degree in the bag, an army career already planned and a shoestring budget of £750 - including for the flight home - he was determined to find out more about the countries of the Caucasus and beyond - and meet the people who lived and worked there.
Eastern Horizons is a true traveller's tale in the tradition of the best of the genre, populated by a cast of eccentric characters; from mujahideen fighters to the Russian mafia. Along the way he meets some people who showed great hospitality, while others would rather have murdered him...
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Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent
'Remote, mountainous and forbidding, here shamans still fly through the night, hidden valleys conceal portals to other worlds, yetis leave footprints in the snow, spirits and demons abound, and the gods are appeased by the blood of sacrificed beasts'
A mountainous state clinging to the far north-eastern corner of India, Arunachal Pradesh - meaning 'land of the dawn-lit mountains' - has remained uniquely isolated.
Steeped in myth and mystery, not since pith-helmeted explorers went in search of the fabled 'Falls of the Brahmaputra' has an outsider dared to traverse it.
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent sets out to chronicle this forgotten corner of Asia. Travelling some 2,000 miles she encounters shamans, lamas, hunters, opium farmers, fantastic tribal festivals and little-known stories from the Second World War.
In the process, she discovers a world and a way of living that are on the cusp of changing forever.
Revolutionary Ride by Lois Pryce
In 2011, at the height of tension between the British and Iranian governments, travel writer Lois Pryce found a note left on her motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London:
... I wish that you will visit Iran so you will see for yourself about my country. WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!!! Please come to my city, Shiraz. It is very famous as the friendliest city in Iran, it is the city of poetry and gardens and wine!!!
Your Persian friend,
Intrigued, Lois decides to ignore the official warnings against travel (and the warnings of her friends and family) and sets off alone on a 3,000 mile ride from Tabriz to Shiraz, to try to uncover the heart of this most complex and incongruous country. Along the way, she meets carpet sellers and drug addicts, war veterans and housewives, doctors and teachers - people living ordinary lives under the rule of an extraordinarily strict Islamic government.
Revolutionary Ride is the story of a people and a country. Religious and hedonistic, practical and poetic, modern and rooted in tradition - and with a wild sense of humour and appreciation of beauty despite the comparative lack of freedom - this is real contemporary Iran.
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The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron
There are many reasons why it might seem unwise to walk, mostly alone, through the Middle East. That, in part, is exactly why Leon McCarron did it.
From Jerusalem, McCarron followed a series of wild hiking trails that trace ancient trading and pilgrimage routes and traverse some of the most contested landscapes in the world. In the West Bank, he met families struggling to lead normal lives amidst political turmoil and had a surreal encounter with the world's oldest and smallest religious sect. In Jordan, he visited the ruins of Hellenic citadels and trekked through the legendary Wadi Rum. His journey culminated in the vast deserts of the Sinai, home to Bedouin tribes and haunted by the ghosts of Biblical history.
The Land Beyond is a journey through time, from the quagmire of current geopolitics to the original ideals of the faithful, through the layers of history, culture and religion that have shaped the Holy Land. But at its heart, it is the story of people, not politics and of the connections that can bridge seemingly insurmountable barriers.
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The Orchid Hunter by Leif Bersweden
In the summer after leaving school, a young botanist sets out to fulfil a childhood dream – to find every species of orchid native to the British Isles.
Battling the vagaries of the British climate in his clapped-out car, Leif Bersweden has just a few months to do what no one has ever done before: to complete this quest within one growing season.
This study of the 52 native species is a fantastic gateway into the compendious world of orchids, and one that will open your eyes to the rare hidden delights to be found on the doorstep.