1031 WHS sites and 1281 World Regions: Where have you been?

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Nr. 88 / Year 4

April 19, 2016




Spring weather may be unpredictable, but thebesttravelled.com is steadily growing. New features of thebesttravelled.com announced in our March magazine seem to be recognized by travellers from all over the world and our community is getting bigger on a daily basis. Our social media followers grew by 20% in April alone and the new TBT registered users figure this month is bigger than the 3 first months of the 2016 combined. Our team is doing their best to make the website running smoothly and to respond to every inquiry in the shortest time possible. But don't take our word for it, see it for yourself!
In the April issue, we give you our usual recommendations for travel literature, this time in French, and a travel app that can be a great help for your next exploration. We also present you two extraordinary fellow travellers who have already accomplished great things in the travel community. We are sure this won't be the last you heard of them, just as we can reassure you thebesttravelled.com will keep growing with you -- and for you. 
A special magazine issue will come out in 2 weeks with a very new and special feature for TBT. Stay tuned. And don't forget to dare, share and discover!




TBT Suggests


It's not rare to look in the Nordic countries when we want to find something unique. This time it's not a 'what' but a 'who'. Gunnar Garfors is well-known in his homeland Norway, a country famous not only for its breathtaking natural beauty but also for notable travellers. And this tradition lives on. Gunnar has set several world travel records--yes, even Guinness World Records!

Go to his personal website and learn more about his multifaceted accomplishments. His article on TBT might also be a good starting point :-)






Travel Startups




What sets Triposo apart from similar apps is that it gives active sightseeing suggestions, taking into account what time of day and weather conditions are. This way, you won't be sent to a local outdoor attraction when it's raining or to a museum that is closed. You will even be suggested top destinations in front of you based on the direction you're facing. 


In Triposo, you will find city guide, maps, and sightseeing information for more than 8,000 worldwide destinations. You can also jot down your impressions in Triposo's travel log.

Available for iPhone and Android.




TBT Book



Ils ont fait le tour du monde : 32 portraits de blog-trotters

Who does not want to leave to tour the world, one year, two years or even more? But between dream and reality, there is a world ... This book follows thirty routes: men and women who were able to go ... and come back. Family, friends, solo or in pairs, their motivations were varied: visiting the world's largest ski resorts, to meet the oppressed people of China, to mention a long illness, discover the cinema to African children, find themselves in family...




Space Travel



There has been a recent exciting development in space travel--no regular orbital or interplanetary flights, though. Latest information about the offer made by Roscosmos to Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of Amazon and space travel company Blue Origin, seems to indicate that the aforementioned Russian state-owned space agency has new, ambitious plans regarding the space program.

Their Soyuz capsule is presently the only vehicle taking passengers into space and they offered to take Bezos on a flyby of the Moon for a 200$ million. The offer was declined, apparently not only for the high price tag but also because Soyuz has never been tested for such a flight. Which they offered to do beforehand as well, for additional 400$ million. 

Credit: Space Foundation

So, we will have to wait a bit longer until this breakthrough is made, but another one seems to be just around a corner. Famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, unveiled on last Tuesday the Starshot project, a new space exploration activity aimed at launching unmanned interstellar "nano craft" probes to reach Alpha Centauri, our neighbouring star. It's an ambitious 100$ million project that should be completed 20 years after the launch of the probes and traversing 4.37 light-years. The probes will help unveil secrets of the deep space and photograph a place that is likely to hold life on other worlds.
Credit: Breakthrough Initiatives

This announcement was made with a billionaire entrepreneur and investor Yuri Milner, born in Moscow. By the way, April 12 is the 55th anniversary of the first human spaceflight in history, made by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, as well as the 35th anniversary of the first orbital mission of NASA's space shuttle program. 


TBT Interview


In the April issue of the TBT Newsletter, we bring you the interview with Els Slots, a remarkable traveller from The Netherlands, whose focus is on UNESCO world heritage sites (WHS). 




Ajanta Caves, WHS site
Ajanta Caves, WHS site

Why did you make your website?
There wasn’t a particular moment that I thought “I am going to develop a website dedicated to WHS, that serves as a reference for other travellers“. It evolved organically over the past 18 years into what it is now. It started as a personal website about my own WH travels, and I kept on adding features as more and more people got interested. WHS and WH related travel appear to be an inexhaustible subject.
What are the challenges to get the website going and running?
There aren’t any real “challenges”. It does take daily attention though, I usually spend 15-30 minutes on it at 5.30 or 6.00 a.m. before I go to work, and the same amount of time when I come back in the evening. Just checking the various Google Alerts for new links related to individual WHS, authorizing new visitor reviews, keeping track of the latest discusssions on the forum, answering e-mails. I keep this routine going when I am travelling too, fortunately there are very few places nowadays with no internet access. I am also blessed by about a dozen very active contributors, who proactively send me interesting links that they have spotted, point out errors or misfunctioning of the website and make suggestions for new connections. So that’s about 12 extra pairs of eyes and ears.
Any specific major projects such as the voting for “missing” or “best” WHS, or organizing the WH travellers meeting, I take on at weekends when I am not travelling. 


Meroe, WHS site  
Meroe, WHS site


What is your personal opinion on the WHS list?
It would be easy to regard it as one big political snake pit, but I like it for what it is. Does it help the conservation of the sites involved? Many sites would be worse off if they weren’t monitored as closely as these sites are. The main aim of course is to preserve. Putting a place on a list draws attention to the site, which improves its chances for (international) funding and bringing in expertise for issues that it might have.
Is there an average 'profile' of a person interested in doing the WHS list?
You have to be a generalist, take interest in lots of things and be eager to learn about the world in all its manifestations. A few months ago I met up with Iain Jackson, one of the best WHS travelled, and we came to talk about mercury mining. After having visited the ‘Mercury Mining Heritage’ at Idrija (Slovenia), we both were amazed that most mercury is derived from stone and only sometimes is directly found in the form of those little silver coloured balls.

Other common grounds seem to be having an educational / professional background in or special interest for History and Architecture.
There are less people with a preference for natural WHS. I also started with cultural WHS as my main interest, but I have learned to enjoy the natural sites too and these are the ones I now often most look forward to visiting.

Kathmandu, WHS site
Kathmandu, WHS site


Which WHS have been most/least interesting?
This is often the first question that I get when people hear about my WH travel & website. I generally list the Kathmandu Valley as my favourite WHS,  but in my Top 20 are also sites such as Meroë, Manu National Park and the Monarch Butterfly Reserves (next to the more generally acclaimed Angkor, Macchu Pichu and Petra) .
There are categories of WHS that I find less interesting. Long-time followers of my website may know that I get easily bored by dripstone caves. But usually I find something of interest, such as the journey to get to a remote WHS. Trying to cover all these WH locations will get you to some very off the beaten track places.

Do you think it is achievable to visit all WHS ?
As long as they keep on adding quite a number of new sites every year, I don’t think it is achievable. It’s a moving target, but that is part of the charm.

   Manu National Park, WHS site
Manu National Park, WHS site

Your last trip? And the next one?
My last trip was a 3-week self-organized journey through Rwanda, DR of Congo and Uganda. It incorporated 2 WHS that had not been reviewed by anyone on the website: Virunga National Park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Virunga is such an experience--because of the excellent gorilla and chimpanzee sightings, and the glimpse into daily life in eastern Congo that it provides.
My next longer trip will start late April. I will go to Azerbaijan and Iran, taking the overland northern route via Ardabil and Tabriz. In Iran I will celebrate my 600th visited WHS and 100th visited UN Country.

   Yakushima, WHS site
Yakushima, WHS site


Finally, if you could invite four people to a dinner, who would they be?
I’m definitely not a group person, so I would never invite four people at the same time. I gathered from your previous newsletters that I can invite dead people too? I think I will stick to a one-on-one conservation with a female explorer, someone like Isabella Bird. We would talk about Japan and about how being a travelling attraction herself influenced her observations. We would enjoy a kaiseki dinner.


Rwenzori Mountains, WHS site
Rwenzori Mountains, WHS site

The photos in this article are from the private collection of Els Slots


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