Blog Words : Insider Secrets | 09 March

5 unexpected places to enjoy the great outdoors

Expedition leader Tom Bodkin has led groups to some of the most challenging and remote places in the world. Here are the places he likes to hang out and enjoy the great wide open

1. White water rafting in South Sudan

I have rafted in many countries, but rafting on the White Nile in South Sudan is something else! The rapids may not compare with the waves at Jinja, further south on the Nile, but the river is an untouched wilderness for the entire 180km stretch between the Ugandan border and Juba. I think we saw about five people in five days. It really hasn’t changed since the time of Samuel Baker and Emin Pasha over 130 years ago.

2. Ski the back country in British Columbia

Back country ski touring in the Coast Mountains in British Columbia is fantastic, a relatively stable coastal snowpack, combined with tonnes of snow each year and a great selection of back country huts. Many of the huts get crowded though on weekends or holidays, but there are a number of unofficial huts which people have built, but are not on any maps or in any books. Find one of these and you are guaranteed a quieter night!

3. Watch a movie in a Morris Minor in New Zealand

If you enjoy a movie, you must go to the cinema in Wanaka, New Zealand. Sit on couches donated by the community, or jump into the Morris Minor and relax! The owner introduces each film with a quirky fact and there is an interval allowing you to stock up with beer, home-made cookies and ice cream!

4. Take a bracing dip in Afghanistan

When trekking high up in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, having a wash in the ice cold glacial streams is brutally cold! So, when you come across hot springs after ten days in the mountains, miles from anywhere, you are really happy, as is the guy sharing your tent!

5. Enjoy a coffee in an ancient fort in Cuba

I was driving through Cuba with a couple of friends and we were absolutely starving. In limited Spanish we asked a local where the nearest place to eat was. He gestured for us to follow him, and we walked for five minutes on paths through countryside, getting increasingly concerned about where he was taking us before we rounded a corner and saw an old Spanish fort on the coast. We climbed to the top and found ourselves in a local café, at the top of the small fort, with a picture postcard view down the coast!

Tom BodkinTom Bodkin founded pioneering expeditionary company Secret Compass after serving in the British Parachute Regiment. He leads pioneering expeditions to the world’s wildest places.