Lonely Planet Awards 2010
The winners revealed!
The first ever Lonely Planet Awards have been announced in the September issue of Lonely Planet Magazine (out now, £3.60). Thousands of you voted to tell us your top travel moments, from Greatest Wildlife Encounter to Greatest Journey. You’ll have to get the magazine to see all the winners, but here’s a sneak preview.
Greatest Wildlife Encounter
Mountain gorillas in Mgahinga National Park, Uganda
Few experiences in life, wildlife-related or otherwise, are more exhilarating than hanging out with gorillas. After a three-hour slog up Mt. Sabyinyo, the first wild gorilla I ever met actually came to see me! A young but still hulking male ambled down our trail passing so close I could have touched him. He then plopped down in the grass next to our group to watch us watch him. Everyone’s first gorilla sighting is invariably an adrenaline moment, but later, staring into his curious eyes filled me with a sense of wonder I still carry with me.
© Paul Souders/Getty Images
Most Underrated British Day Out
Walking Scotland’s wild beaches
Binoculars are a must – I didn’t repeat the sighting of a mermaid by local shepherd Sandy Gunn back in 1900, but there’s plenty of wildlife to spot. The skies in summer are alive with skylarks, and peregrine falcons nest on the southern cliffs. Since 2005 there have been regular reports of the elusive corncrake; listen out for its distinctive crek-crek-crek call, like someone scraping a fingernail along a comb.
Fill your time lifting your legs as the provodnitsa (carriage attendant) vacuums the skinny carpet, or thumbing through a Dostoevsky novel, or tucking into instant Chinese noodles made with the samovar down the train aisle. Then, a day or three later, when you do exit – and do break up the trip (there are no showers) – you may find yourself suddenly deep in Asia, like distant Irkutsk (gateway to mountain-rimmed, sea-sized Lake Baikal with shaman islands). Russia is huge. And it takes a train to realise it.
© Phillip Lee Harvey
Greatest Sporting Experience
Monaco Grand Prix
If the narrowness of the track is shocking, it's nothing compared to the sensory assault of seeing an F1 car hurtle along it. You can't view from anywhere other than up close at Monaco and nothing can prepare you for the visceral blast of a Formula One car in this setting. The sound – a fiendishly loud shriek, punctuated by sharp pops and bangs and a deep whoosh of aerodynamics – has you reaching for your ears to protect them, and it's doubled and trebled by the buildings bunched tightly on either side. They don't call Monaco the ‘Jewel in the F1 crown' for nothing. Everyone should see this race at least once.
© Mark Thompson/Getty Images
The Event I Would Most Like To Attend In The Next Year
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Regis St Louis
Seeing the parade, however, is nothing like actually taking part – and anyone willing to fork out £200-plus for a costume can join a samba school. The shimmy through the arena was euphoric, with a sea of fans in the stands singing the songs, dancing, and waving at me – or more likely the G-string-wearing, fast-footed samba dancer a few metres to my right.
© David Uribe/SIME/4corners