The Bucket List

A new generation of intrepid traveller is set on leaving the beaten path and exploring some of the world’s most remote and emerging destinations. Nick Walton recounts visits to the locales that have captivated his imagination since childhood.

Papua New Guinea

With a cheer from the crowd, the dragon charges drunkenly into the sunlight. Its face is the blood red of the betel nut chewers, its beard a flow of white cockatoo features, and its body a long, winding chain of feet that weave behind, stumbling blindly through the Sepik River mud. I follow at a discrete distance, as respectful as I am wary of the beast’s precarious behind. At the centre of the village the dragon comes to a halt, and we are officially welcomed to this remote corner of Papua New Guinea.

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Another destination that should be on the bucket lists of culture and history lovers is Kazakhstan, a landscapes of endless steppes, towering mountain ranges, nomadic tribes and ancient trading cities.

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Antarctica had been on my bucket list since I was a child, when story books telling of an ice-encrusted landscape populated by friendly penguins captivated me. But it’s a destination that lingers, and many ‘ice junkies’ will confess it stays on the bucket list long after the first visit.

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They say you haven’t been to India until you’ve been to Rajasthan, and I would have to agree. One of the most colourful corners of this vibrant country, Rajasthan boasts a rich history laced with ancient kingdoms, desert tribes and mythology. There are many ways to explore Rajasthan but one of the best – and certainly most luxurious – is on the acclaimed Maharaja’s Express, recently named the world’s best train journey for the fifth year in a row. The train’s seven-day Indian Panorama journey captures the beauty of Rajasthan to perfection, with daily guided tours and plenty of behind-the-scenes access.

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Northwest Passage

In nautical terms the Northwest Passage has a rich history of exploration and tragedy. Searched for by countless expeditions, the hypothesized shortcut between Europe and Asia remained a mystery until Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen discovered a navigable route in 1906. Ironically it wasn’t Amundsen’s name that became associated with the Northwest Passage but that of Sir John Franklin, whose ill-fated 1845 expedition disappeared without a trace, until now.

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