1 | Machu Picchu
A gripping tale of exploration from 1911—how adventurer Hiram Bingham, expecting nothing more than a few agricultural terraces, scaled precipitous slopes and struggled through dense jungle to first come upon the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu.
From the foot of a hulking great glacier, along barren and rocky mountain trails, skimming the fringes of lush, green Peruvian jungle, and up giant Inca staircases—this is the story of our trek to the atmospheric and misty ruins of Machu Picchu.
Rising from obscurity to the heights of power, a succession of Andean rulers subdued kingdoms, sculpted mountains, and forged a mighty empire.
Machu Picchu far surpassed our expectations. The city is so vast and so complete it defies imagination. Trekking the holiest segment of the 'Inca Trail' to reach the city at sunrise on the fourth day, we explored many impressive ruins along the way.
To get to Machu Picchu there are two ways: the first one is to take a train at Ollantaytambo. The other one is the adventurous way. The Inca Trail is the track the Incas themselves built and it is a four day walk to arrive in Machu Picchu. Of course we chose the adventurous way!
2 | Angkor Wat
Deep in the jungles of Cambodia I discovered secret caves and forgotten shrines, enshrouded in roots. There are hundreds of tiny nooks, old broken stone doors, lost hallways, and mysterious carvings peeking out of the overgrowth.
Sharing the experience of Angkor Wat aglow at sunrise with elbow-jutting, neck-craning crowds was somehow a communal testament to its wonder. Later, as I sketch the temple, birdsong fills the air and there is barely a cloud in sight.
It would seem impossible to see something different from the millions of tourists, something untouched. Yet despite the fact that Angkor Wat is Cambodia's most famous tourism destination and as such, receives well over a million visits a year—it can be done.
Angkor Wat is the single largest religious complex on Earth and it would take weeks to fully explore its endless ruins. This is the story of how I watched the sunrise, all alone, amongst the temples of Angkor Wat.
3 | Petra
When I think back to my trip to Jordan, some of it seems like a dream. Did I really get a chance to see the Lost City of Petra, the newest member of the family of Wonders of the World? Good thing I had a camera with me to prove it, as Petra is one of the most spectacular places on Earth.
Strawberry stone columns nestled between a tear of jagged darkness, clouds of purple-pink dust thrown into spirals, hanging in the heat-soaked air. Petra was both overwhelming and atmospheric, and I felt as though I was uncovering an ancient legend.
A journey through the passageways and open spaces of Petra, with a close look at the myth and history of the Nabataen civilization and the rise and fall of this ancient city.
Located deep in the mountains of southern Jordan, Petra is an awe-inspiring monument to mankind's ingenuity and craftsmanship. By night Petra transforms into what must be one of the most magical and romantic places in the world.
Deep in the desert of Jordan we roamed, In a rose tinted city named Petra, borne from stone. Three hundred years before Christ it was built, The Nabataeans mastered carving, the heat did nought but wilt.
4 | Taj Mahal
Surrounded by hordes of frantic travelers, baffled by bureaucratic idiosyncrasies, I attempt to purchase a train ticket to Agra. On the journey, I discover that Indians tend to take pity on clueless Westerners. The next day, at the Taj Mahal, I am entranced by the sunrise and a beautiful French woman.
The story of eternal love and everlasting despair gave an otherworldly color and whole new perspective to my experience at one of the world's greatest architectural wonders.
The day after a trip to India's most famous tourist destination—what's right and what's wrong and what it is that fills the space in between. Later, I will be ashamed that I didn't just pay the extra money and have the boy sew up the tear in my sandal.
Barefoot on cool marble, I watched as the faithful coiled in long lines and snaked their way around the complex, waiting patiently in the 95 degree heat. Later, away from the huddled masses, I wandered into the wilds and outskirts of the Taj Mahal.
5 | Great Wall of China
Blue skies and beauty on a crisp December morning, while exploring the incredible feat of engineering that is the Great Wall of China.
Walking from tower to tower, looking at the sinuous wall as it snakes over the mountains, I finally found an extremely remote section that is far enough away from civilisation to stay pure. Overgrown with vegetation, the wall has crumbled away in the past thousand years.
6 | The Acropolis
Up the steep slippery marble stairs you climb, the weight of years of expectation heavy upon you. Then the beauty of the Acropolis finally reveals itself. Up here you feel displaced from the minutiae of everyday life. There is a spirituality here that neither time nor cynicism can destroy.
7 | Easter Island
This dot of tranquility, with soft rolling grassy hills, and rugged coasts rising in isolation from turquoise seas left us much to ponder. I need only to close my eyes to be carried on gentle tropical breezes back to the beautiful people of Rapa Nui and the indelible grandeur of the moai.
8 | Hagia Sophia
Golden light reaches into the archways and corridors of this architectural, historical wonder—streaming through windows and from chandeliers. Sometimes things are just beautiful—and you don't have to know why.
9 | Colosseum
Exploring behind the scenes at the Colosseum, down in the dungeons, you can imagine how the waiting gladiators would have heard the other fighters thumping overhead and the blood-crazed roar of the crowd.
10 | The Pyramids
No trip to Egypt would be complete without seeing the Pyramids. They are absolutely the one "must see" if you visit the country.
If these stories have left you drunk on wonderment—go ahead and tweet this post, @mentioning any friends who you think would also enjoy these adventurous tales.