This week we are exploring Romania's largest and most iconic region,mistaken by many Americans and others as a country in its own right. In fact Transylvania is a name that most of the western world still associates with Dracula, werewolves and folk legend. But this land beyond the forest defies all preconceptions and remains one of the most culturally important and beautiful parts of Eastern Europe.
2018 • Travel
The second leg begins in Siberia and takes him to Russia's far south west and the majestic Caucasus Mountains. From Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on Earth, Simon takes the Trans-Siberian Railway to the city of Krasnoyarsk, the scene of brutal violence in the 1990s, and now the location of a cafe paying homage to Vladimir Putin. Simon is introduced to a Siberian community that worships a former traffic cop they believe to be the reincarnation of Christ. Along with a rare interview with the messiah himself, Simon meets some of the daughters of his followers being educated to become future brides of worthy men. After encounters with Tuvan throat singers and Cossack street patrols, Simon visits Dagestan, a largely Muslim region that has been scarred by jihadist violence. He meets security forces who use highly trained dogs to tackle the terrorist threat, and villagers attempting to keep their ancient tightrope-walking traditions alive.
The third leg of the adventurer's journey takes him from the south of Kenya to the Horn of Africa. Along the way he joins a Ugandan peace-keeping force in Mogadishu, the capital of war-torn Somalia, which turns out to be the most dangerous leg of his journey as he ends up under fire on the front line. In contrast, he finds neighbouring Somaliland a stable and democratic home to thousands of Somalis fleeing fighting and famine. In Kenya's Tana Delta, he meets villagers facing eviction from an area that the government is turning over to sugar cane production for bio-fuels.
On board a timeless dahabiya cruise boat, the historian sets off on a 900-mile adventure up the Nile to Egypt's southern border, seeing the country as the ancient Egyptians once did. She arrives at Egypt's gateway to the world - the Nile's mouth - then meets the crew that will guide her upstream. A visit to the Cairo Museum and its collection of Egyptian mummies follows, before Bettany braves the underground tunnels of a collapsed pyramid.