Around the World by Train - Series 2 - Documentary

Around the World by Train - Series 2 - Documentary

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I'm rejoining the rails for another epic adventure. Are you excited? Who wouldn't be? I'm travelling around the globe again. Riding some of the most legendary trains in the world. To experience more spectacular railways.

Look at this place! From the Arctic Circle... Oh! the glorious Andes. And the heart of Europe... Isn't it fantastic? It's just a ticket hall! the edge of America. Oh, this is amazing! And I'll venture off the tracks to discover awe-inspiring places...

England! ..extraordinary people... ..and unforgettable experiences. Hey! Hey! It's staggering, isn't it? Ahh! Here I am again, back at St Pancras Station in London and ready to hit the rails. Last time I went east, all the way around the world by train. But all that globetrotting made me realise there is so much more to see.

So I'm going to do it again. But this time, in the opposite direction. And I'm kicking off with a route through Europe, so, of course, there's only one train to start off in, isn't there? And, as usual, I'll be bringing this little lot with me. Come on, lads. Excuse me, can I squeeze through? Here we go.

This time, I'm heading to the south of France to begin my adventures. I'll make a stop on the coast in the Camargue... ..then cross the border to Spain's Costa Brava. I'll race down to Barcelona, head west to the capital, Madrid, and then end in Portugal. I've been to Europe before, of course, but most of the time it's been zooming over the Channel by plane or hurtling down a bunch of motorways.

I think going by train would be a really good way to do it. The railway network is so extensive that you can get virtually anywhere, all the tourist spots. But the hidden gems as well. In the summer, there's now a direct train that links London and the French Cote d'Azur in six-and-a-half hours.

And it delivers you right to the heart of Marseille. This is St Charles Station. I'm changing trains here, but with an hour to kill, I'm going for a wander. We are now in the second city of France. It all looks a bit non-descript now, doesn't it? But then you get to these steps. Pow! What a great, imperial statement.

And steps themselves...'s like climbing up an enormous wedding cake, isn't it? And if you look down that street and beyond, those chimney pots, there is the reason that Marseille has thrived and been so successful for centuries. The Mediterranean Sea. Marseille was the gateway to France's once great empire.

That means there were loads of dockers and sailors working here. The sort of people who kick off when they get stroppy. Like in the French Revolution.

In the year 1792, on this very street, the Rue Thubaneau, a group of Marseille revolutionaries gathered and sang their song, the Marseillaise. # Allons enfants de la Patrie... # They were about to head north and get to Paris for a massive punch-up. And they didn't care who tried to stand on their way. And the song became so popular, it spread throughout the whole countryside and was sung by all the people marching towards Paris.

And a few years later, it was decreed to be the national anthem. MUSIC: La Marseillaise. While this old port used to be a bit dangerous sometimes, in recent years it has attracted more tourists. It's a great jumping off point to explore more of the south of France. And I'm back at St Charles Station to hop on a regular regional train.

I'm heading around 50 miles along the coast to where the Med meets the Rhone. And a lesser-known part of Provence. France has the tenth longest railway network in the world. And unlike Britain, which had the Beeching cuts in the 1960s, it didn't axe its less popular local routes. So in France you can travel all over the country on the regional lines.

And I'm heading for deepest Provence by rail. A few miles south of Arles Station is the area known as the Camargue. When someone says southern France to me, I think of gorgeous young women in bikinis and sunglasses on the Cote d'Azur. Or valley after valley crammed full of vineyards or beautiful little stone houses nestled in the hills. What I don't think of is the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Look at these! Are they not the most exquisite horses you've ever seen? These magnificent white Camargue horses are native to this marshland region.

And for the past 500 years, they've been used to wrangle herds of prize-winning bulls by the Gardiens - Europe's only surviving cowboys. And today, I'm going to saddle up and give them a hand. How are you going to decide which horse to choose for me, Patrick? You want to tell me, maybe, you know?! Well, I think a very placid one. One who won't run away with me! So maybe this one? They're very tame. This one? Yeah. What's this one called? Kerido.

Kerido. They're not actually wild, are they? No. They live like wild horses. All the year alone and outside. But they are not wild. So we'll take Kerido? Yeah, I'm happy to take Kerido. Come on, Kerido.

This way. Whoop! Here we go. Patrick's family owns one of the oldest ranches in the Camargue, which stretches over 500 hectares. And they're very proud of their centuries-old ranching way of life.

So you really are a cowboy? Yeah! So you don't dress like this for the tourists? This is your working clothes? I'm a French cowboy! I didn't know such things existed, but it's brilliant! Well, I've got myself a horse. A hat. And even the seal of approval from Patrick's dad. Very good. Let's get those bulls! Let me get this clear. I'm in a field with 50 bulls.

Not 50 - 100. 100! That makes it so much better! BULLS BELLOW Those bulls, why do they kick the dust like that? Because they want to fight. "Come on", they say, "Come on!" You just stay where you are! Oh, my God! We're heading straight for them! With me...

TONY CLICKS Come on! PATRICK WHISTLES What does the whistling mean? Err... Go away. But slowly, you know? PATRICK WHISTLES You want them to go away fast! Oh! Oh! Whoa! Patrick told me to stay near him but he just keeps galloping off! PATRICK WHISTLES WHISTLING QUICKENS Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! Whoa. That's better, that's better! It's actually slightly scary! Whenever I come to somewhere as wonderful as this, of course I feel an enormous affinity to the people and the animals. But there's part of me that's thinking, "Hang on, this isn't going to last." "Capitalism and globalisation aren't going to let this place flourish." But this whole area is a protected nature reserve and Patrick said to me that as long there are bulls and as long as there are Gardiens to look after them and the horses, these ranches will survive.

And that's pretty positive, isn't it? Coming up... I continue my journey of discovery in beautiful Barcelona. Where I find out what it's like to live in a Gaudi masterpiece. All the tourists can see you all the time? That's muy importante! And I pitch up on one of the greatest football stadiums in the world.

I still get a shiver down my spine seeing it for real. It's day two of my trip through southern Europe by train, and after time spent herding bulls in the south of France, I'm on the high-speed train. I'm heading down the coast to the very bottom of France and the base of the Pyrenees where I'll cross into Spain.

I certainly wouldn't have seen all this if I'd been in the car, would I? All this...coastline... massive inland waterways, the foothills of the Pyrenees over there. Mind you, it is all at 200kph, but it's still pretty stunning.

France was the first country in Europe to have high-speed rail when it introduced these TGV trains in the early 1980s, but France and Spain have only been connected by direct high-speed train since 2013 after a new line was built through the mountains. Travelling by train's so easy. Here we are on one side of the Pyrenees in France, and thanks to the 5.2-mile long tunnel, here we are on the other side in Spain.

I'm heading straight to the Costa Brava. My first stop is Figueres, where I'm jumping off to head a few miles east to the coast and the small town of L'Escala and I can't wait. This is one of the first places in Spain to become a package holiday hot spot. What I'm much more interested in these days is seeing what life's like for some of the locals. Fishing was once the lifeblood of the Costa Brava and 40-odd years ago L'Escala Beach would have been awash with fishing boats. But as more and more tourists invaded with their sun beds, the fishermen were moved here to the nearby harbour.

Classic sign of a fishing boat coming in, you see all those gulls swirling around. Just below them you can just about make out the little mast of the fishing boat coming in. I think I'd expected something massive like a huge trawler.

It's quite cute, that, isn't it? I've come down here this morning because if you want to know what life's like in a place like this, you need to have a chat with the fishermen. Hi, I'm Tony. Hi. Was it a good catch today? A good catch? A good catch. Three tonnes. Three tonnes? Three tonnes of sardines.

So you're a very rich man. Oh! THEY LAUGH We need help. You need help? OK. First interview I've ever done where after three minutes I stink of fish. HE LAUGHS Most of these sardines will be sold in Spain, but some of them will end up in the UK. When you're eating one of these back home, remember, it could have come from right here. This is your sister's restaurant? Yes.

I've got an invite to try some of the sardines for breakfast. Hola! Hello. Locals Augustina and Mary have lived in L'Escala all their lives. Are you going to join us? No, she have to work. She's busy. Very busy. OK.

So how do we eat these? With the fingers. Wonderful. I like it. I like it, except it's very hot. Yeah. Mm. That's good. These are wonderful. Yeah, because they are fresh, these ones.

Yesterday when I arrived here, it was all tourists. Tourists and amusing lilos shaped like flamingos. And it felt as if the place had no soul at all. Today... ..down at the harbour, as the fish came off the boat, it felt like the place does still have a heart. Yes, it's like this and you can feel that. In town in August you're only going to see tourists.

But if you came in two or three months, like October, November, so we get together then. You become a proper town again. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. This place may have a reputation for deck chairs and package holidays, but today I've seen the old-style Costa Brava - lots of hard work, beautiful fish and a lovely meal at the end of it. Long may that Costa Brava survive.

I'm rejoining the rails and taking a local train. I'm heading for the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona. This region is Spain's industrial heartland.

So it's no surprise that was the first place in the country to have a railway. This is the oldest railway line in Spain. It was built in 1848, although why they should have built it so that it cuts off virtually every beach from its local town is beyond me. But what's left is pretty stunning.

We're heading right into the heart of Catalonia now, which is an area which is very different from the rest of Spain. It's got its own language - like Wales has - its own culture, its own traditions, but this feeling of separateness isn't just a historical thing. It raises as much passion now as it ever has. And to get a better understanding of this passion, I've come to Barcelona FC, Catalan's very own football team. Barcelona's famous Camp Nou holds close to 100,000 people. I must have seen this stadium 100 times on the telly, but I still get a shiver down my spine seeing it for real.

What you might not realise watching on TV is that the roar of the crowd when Messi scores a goal is also a call for Catalan's independence. Andy, you've been here for a long time now, haven't you, both as a journalist and commentator? One thing I didn't expect to see when I came here was those four words - Mes que un club. That's Catalan, right? It's Catalan for "more than a club". And that very much sums up how Barcelona feel about themselves as an institution. They feel that, yes, we're a football club,

but we're a lot more than that. We represent people. It's about identity, it's about culture, it's about the sense of belonging and that's very much how the club perceives itself - not just a football team. For the last few years, at 17 minutes and 14 seconds into each half, the fans strike up a chant for independence. Because 1714 was the year that they lost independence and became assimilated as part of Spain and the club obviously has never done anything to try to subdue that. What happened to the club when General Franco, the fascist dictator through to the 1970s, was in power? Cos he didn't like the idea of independence, did he? Not at all.

In fact, he went further than that and supressed Catalan identity, Catalan language was banned, it couldn't be taught in schools, couldn't publish books or magazines, newspapers in Catalan. It was almost a safe haven, this stadium, when it opened in the '50s for people to come along and sing their songs, support their team, express themselves in Catalan, which was something they couldn't do in official life cos the language was banned, so I think a lot of the power of the brand, almost, of Barcelona as a club and being more than a club was born and solidified in that era. CROWD CHANTS But it's not just football and politics that makes this fascinating city stand out from the rest of Spain - it's also its architecture. And at the forefront stands the work of the great Antoni Gaudi. This is Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's most iconic creation.

He started work on the cathedral back in 1882. 137 years later, it's still not finished. But that doesn't stop over three million people flocking to see it each year. Gaudi was part of the Catalan modernism movement which took inspiration from nature, bright colours and curved lines. But he took it to the next level and transformed the look of a whole city. This is Park Guell, another one of Gaudi's unique creations.

I've come here to meet Bianca, an architect with a passion for all things Gaudi. Hey, Bianca, how are you? How are you doing? I want to find out who Gaudi the man was and what made him tick. You've got this crazy, crazy kind of Disney World, really, haven't you? How did people react to this architecture? This was very controversial. Many people appreciate his work, but many people would make fun about his solutions, ideas, colourful designs and crazy ideas. Gaudi wasn't just famous for creating parks and cathedrals.

He built places for people to live in, too. Bianca has brought me to Casa Mila to meet one of its residents, Anna. Can we come in and have a look at your house? Thank you very much.

It's not until you're inside that you realise the building is doughnut-shaped and the apartments run around its circular edge. The corridors are so high, aren't they? It's really luxurious. It's very practical, but also great luxury and space. Show me more.

This truly is a great space, but outside I can't help but notice one tiny problem. All the tourists can see you all the time! No esta importante? Muy importante! No esta importante! It would drive me bonkers. I suppose if push came to shove I could put up with them...

..just for the lounge alone. What an amazing room, Anna! Incredible. Will you stay here for the rest of your life? Yes. Sure. THEY LAUGH I think that's a good end to the interview, don't you? Like most people, I knew that Gaudi had designed crazy and colourful houses. What I hadn't understood until today was that he also had a passion for people, a passion for the space that they move around in, like Anna's fantastic flat which, quite honestly, is just about the nicest apartment I've ever been in.

Coming up, I continue my search for surprises in northern Spain where I'm confronted by extraordinary echoes of its bloody civil war. It must have been madness in here. And I pull into Madrid's tropical train station. It's great, isn't it? I'm halfway through my eye-opening trip through southern Europe and after a couple of days exploring beautiful Barcelona I think I get why Gaudi was one of the truly great architects of the 20th century. But there's more excitement ahead.

I'm at Sants Station, Catalan's busiest transport hub, to head west on one of the fastest trains in the world. This is Ave, which is Spain's version of Japan's bullet train, or our HS2. Actually, the second one isn't really a very good example, is it? But you know what I mean. It's fast. In this super-fast train it only takes three hours to cover the more than 300 miles between Barcelona to Madrid, so along the way I've got time to make friends in the buffet car. LAUGHTER And it means I can afford to hop off halfway for another stop.

For hundreds of years Spain was a major player on the world stage. It was very rich, very powerful, but between 1936 and 1939 it kind of juddered to a halt when it became in the grip of a terrible civil war. On one hand you had General Franco's fascists, on the other hand you had the Republicans. I'm getting off at Zaragoza to find out more. This region saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the civil war.

And south of the city is Belchite. Wow. This is all that's left of a small Spanish town that was obliterated during a two-week military onslaught at the height of the civil war. Since the troops departed on September 7th 1937, this site has remained untouched.

INDISTINCT CHATTER My guide, Isobel, explains that this once beautiful cathedral was the epicentre of the carnage that took place here. This looks like it must have been a very old and magnificent church. Any idea when it was built? In the 17th century. Wow, so it's a kind of Renaissance building, isn't it? Mm-hm. It's extraordinary, you go into a little side chapel like this and initially you think it's just a ruin.

It's only when you get close to it that you see incredible numbers of bullet holes. This actually is where the battle started. Who was defending this church? The church was defended by the Francoist troops.

This is the fascists? Yeah. They were situated in the tower and the Republican army broke this wall. They start shooting the people in the tower. The people in the tower were shooting them. It must have been madness in here. This tower looks like it could topple down at any moment.

Yeah, we have a shell over there that didn't explode. A shell?! Oh, it's like a black thing sticking out, like a little periscope or something. Yeah. Can we move on? Yeah, for sure! What was the result of the battle? The Republicans took the town.

Six months later there was a two-day battle in which the Francoist troops took the town again. So Franco left this as a war memorial to say that the other side were really bad but his side was really powerful, and smashed them to pieces. It's easy to talk about the Spanish Civil War and the tactics and the politics and the strategies, but it isn't until you get to Belchite that you really get a sense of the human cost of all that fighting. That's so sad.

It's time to move on so I'm hopping back on the high-speed train at Zaragoza and I'm now heading to Madrid. It's 170 miles to the capital from here, but the journey will take less than 90 minutes. Just enough time to relax and check out my new state-of-the-art travel pillow. If only I could put it on right! Oh, there you go. This train is so smooth I'll sleep like a baby all the way to Madrid.

I'm in Madrid's Atocha Railway Station now. All the normal accoutrements of a railway station are here - the ticket office, the vending machines, the bars...the jungle. The jungle! It's true. It's this wonderful? They established this in 1992. There were railway tracks here before that but there was one big problem they had to overcome, which was that there was a little lake in the middle of it - very nice - except that people kept dumping their unwanted turtles in it until eventually it became turtle city and they had to ship them all out and drain the lake. And's great, isn't it?

I've only got one afternoon to explore Madrid, so time to stretch my legs. All Spain's major roads lead to Madrid and this point is where they all start. It's the geographical centre of Spain.

Look, I'm standing right in the middle of Spain. Madrid became the capital of Spain back in 1561 and it's a grand old place. But it's not just the statues and impressive buildings on offer here. Over in Lavapies you can step off the tourist trail and get a better sense of the city.

It's the edgy part of town, full of hipsters and trendy bars. It does great free tapas...'s the perfect place to meet new friends... So, is this the hen do? Yes. Very civilised. Hen do part two. Just the four of you? Yeah. Aw, that's nice. ..and a mecca for shopping for jazzy shirts... We're ready for you, Tony. Sorry.

..if only the crew would let me. But I fancy something a bit more traditional so I'm heading back to the city centre for dinner. Behind this wall is the Plaza Mayor, but buried into it are a lot of tiny old taverns, each one of which specialises in a different food. So that one specialises in tortilla, that one in boquerones - which are anchovies - but I'm going to have a look at the oldest one of the lot... ..Sobrino de Botin. This place became a restaurant in the year 1725. I love this old bar, don't you, and these great dark beams against the white ceiling. And this mural here really gives you a sense of age and the brightness of all that painted panelling and those dark, gloomy paintings that, if they belonged to your gran, you'd want them on the skip, but here they give you this incredible sense of Spanishness.

Come with me. And through here... Look, if you go that way, I'll meet you round here. Cos what I want to show you is this oven, which has remained alight for nearly 300 years. They specialise in roast suckling pig here and the Guinness Book Of World Records awarded it the title World's Oldest Restaurant. And over the years its tables have played host to a long list of distinguished diners.

But Antonio, the current owner, is most proud of the restaurant's royal heritage. Where did the King sit? Usually they have a round table here because that way they join in the atmosphere. But you don't clear the whole of the restaurant, other people can still come here when the Royal Family are here? Yes, of course. Sometimes we have a curtain or something, but most of the time Juan Carlos, he told us, "Please don't put the curtain."

He wanted to be part of it, and people were toasting with the King. Oh, that's nice. I love the idea that the restaurant has a personality that is brimming full of history. That's what I felt as soon as I walked in. Oh, great. I'm very glad. It must be time to find out what food cooked in a 300-year-old oven tastes like.

And it would be mean not to ask the crew to join me. Hey, guys. Thank you. Oh, wow, that looks beautiful.

Oh, great. Thank you. Thank you very much. Gracias. Shall I serve? Shall I be mum? Enjoy it.

Madrid's full of delicious surprises like this. I just wish I could stay and discover more. But it's an early start tomorrow. I've got a train to catch. Next, I'm in Portugal's Porto and what a welcome! Isn't it fantastic? It's just a ticket hall! I get to ride the rails through the country's breathtaking views. Gorgeous Douro Valley, which is the heart of Portuguese wine-making.

And I get knee-deep with the locals. Between these two guys, this is great. THEY LAUGH I'm on the last leg of my journey through southern Europe and so far I've found some lovely little gems along the way.

After exploring Spain, I've headed 352 miles west to Portugal. This is Porto and it's easy to see why it's called the City of Bridges. Oh, my goodness! Look at this. The Maria Pia Bridge isn't only the oldest bridge in Porto, but the oldest railway crossing in Portugal. It was designed back in the 1800s by Gustave Eiffel, who went on to build some big tower in Paris.

Like France and Spain, Portugal once had a great empire. Dripping with gold and silver, sending explorers off all over the world. And yet all that seems to have just dribbled away.

But after some tough times, the country's in the middle of an economic upturn. Lisbon is one of the latest must-do city breaks and Porto isn't far behind. Topped with terracotta rooftops, this entire city is a Unesco World Heritage Site. And the greeting waiting for you at Sao Bento Station is quite spectacular. Look at this place! It's just a ticket hall! A railway ticket hall! But it could be a palace, couldn't it? All these tiles were put up in the early 1900s by the master tile-maker of Portugal, Jorge Colaco.

And he hand-painted them. And they look magnificent. You couldn't do this in England. but here it's so pristine. Local architect Ricardo is a bit of an expert when it comes to these tiles. When the train station is built, there's this idea of adding things that are important for us, so they start...

Over here we can see clearly wine being picked, being brought from the valley. Over here getting the wheat and then milling it on this water mill over here. That's beautiful. It's like a Constable painting in England, that one. And that's the booze up, presumably? Yeah, that's one thing we do very well. We like to drink, we like to party.

It was the Moors who first introduced these tiles to Portugal back in the 17th century. The country fell in love with them. Beautiful. Wow, look at this. Yeah.

And in Porto they're all over the place. You can see the building over there. Beautiful. I love this place. It has the grandeur of Madrid and the vibrancy of Barcelona, but it feels a little more low-key, less showy. So what does Ricardo think about his next door neighbours? What's the difference between the Spanish and the Portuguese? Don't make me start! I thought it might! We are very similar in language. We understand everything they say,

they don't understand a word of what we say. I don't understand why. It's the same phrases and phrase construction with a different accent. And for us it's easy just to speak Spanish, we just give a different intonation and we're there. We like them very much... in their country. God! One thing that strikes me about these people is their pride in their traditions.

Look at this lot. Tell me about them. OK, so we are a tuna. What does that mean? It's not a fish. It's a traditional thing from Portugal. We are all students of engineering, of the faculty, and then we formed the group 30 years ago and it's like this. And a big tradition in Portugal, there's a lot of groups.

Each faculty has one. We have ours, you know? So good. I love this, this is great. Typical choreography. Do you make much money? OK, so you have to ask the crowd, I think.

HE LAUGHS See you later. See you. I'm up here cos I wanted to show you the might River Douro. And by an eerie coincidence, it's also the perfect place to show you the most magnificent sunset.

I'm back at Sao Bento Station. It's the last day of my trip exploring Europe. Time for one final adventure. I've left Porto now to get on this lovely little old train.

It's a line that was first opened in 1887, so it's pretty old. For most of its length it hugs the mighty Douro River, but I'm not getting off till we get to the gorgeous Douro Valley, which is the heart of Portuguese wine-making, so I'm really looking forward to that. This railway line is an engineering masterpiece. There's 26 tunnels and 30 bridges connecting all the towns and villages along the water's edge. All I know about port is that there's lots of brands with British-sounding names and it's a sweet, sticky tipple my Auntie Ethel used to drink at Christmas, so I've come to Quinta da Pacheca, one of the oldest port-making estates in the Valley, to find out more.

There's a word in English - pendulous. Which is kind of dangly. These grapes, they are definitively pendulous, aren't they? And who better to educate me than Maria, an award-winning port-maker? I think they are not ready. The sugar is not enough for port. This vineyard produces hundreds of bottles of port each year and, incredibly, they still make the drink in the old, traditional way - crushing the grapes by foot. Tony, do you want to go...? Of course I want to have a go! But suppose I had athlete's foot or verrucas - that would be ghastly in your wine! No, there's no problem. The alcohol that the wine has, it will kill everything that you have in your foot? Really? And there's no problem for the wine, yes.

It's very, very, very odd. You can feel all the...different grapes just go pop, pop, pop! Thank you, yeah, I'd much rather be in the middle. We do it for three hours. Three hours?! Yes. Let's do this! OK. I'm so glad I'm not on the end, I think I would fall over if I was on the end.

Between these two guys, this is great. THEY LAUGH Now, I know what you're thinking - why are we doing this? Well, the benefit of crushing the grapes by foot is the seeds won't break, which could make the port bitter. And it's rather satisfying. Very polite of you. Feel like I've been the naughty boy in primary school and the teacher's cleaning me up! Sorry, miss! Time to taste the fruits of my labours and reflect on my journey so far. On this leg of my journey I've been to France, Spain and Portugal - all countries I was a little bit familiar with before - but who would have thought I'd end up riding with cowboys in France or learning about Catalan independence at Barcelona's famous Camp Nou? And I did it all while travelling on the most spectacular railways in Europe.

And what a way to end my trip - sailing along the mighty Douro. This river goes down to the Portuguese coast, then you've got the Atlantic and beyond it South America, adn that's where I'm going next week. Next time, I join the biggest carnival party in Peru...

Hey! Peru! Peru! Peru! ..ride one of the poshest locomotives on Earth... This is a train! It's actually a train! ..venture deep into the Amazon Jungle... Monkey alert, monkey alert. ..and fulfil my lifelong dream of seeing the ancient wonder of Machu Picchu. Look at that! 'I'm rejoining the rails for another epic adventure.' Are you excited? Who wouldn't be? 'I'm travelling around the globe again...' I'm riding some of the most legendary trains in the world. HORN TOOTS ' experience more spectacular railways...'

Look at this place! '..from the Arctic Circle...' Ooh! the glorious Andes. 'And the heart of Europe...' Isn't it fantastic? It's just a ticket hall! ' the edge of America.' Oh, this is amazing! 'And I'll venture off the tracks 'to discover awe-inspiring places...' England! '..extraordinary people...'

Hey! No! '..and unforgettable experiences.' It's staggering, isn't it? DRAMATIC MUSIC Ah! 'This time, I'm riding the train through South America. 'I've never been to this continent before in my life 'and I'm really excited to finally make this trip.' I'm going to be travelling for thousands of miles and my first stop is Buenos Aires. 'My journey through South America is going to take me across Argentina, 'deep into the Andes 'and out to the Amazon, 'before leaving me at the ancient city of Machu Picchu, 'a place I've been waiting my whole life to see.'

We haven't even got to Buenos Aires yet and already there's a full-scale party on the train! I've always wanted to come here because it's such a diverse place, so many different peoples. 'But lots of South American countries are having a hard time at the moment 'with economic and political upheaval. 'On my journey, I want to understand what that means for everyday people, 'starting here in Argentina.'

'The shadow of Eva Peron 'still looms large in the capital, 'and tensions are high right now 'as the country moves through another economic crisis. 'With a few hours in town before I catch my next train, 'I want to know how the hard-working people of this city are coping.' Oh, the tango! Oh, right, OK! 'So I'm meeting up with local Bibiana Para 'for a whistle-stop tour of the downtown district.' Amazing multicolours! 'And there's one thing we can't avoid.'

Oh, we almost passed! Oh! Right here! 'Tango was born right here in the working-class neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires.' It's fantastic! It's a little bit intimate. Yeah. 'It was originally danced by prostitutes and dockworkers, 'but now it's embraced by everyone in society.'

We dance 24 hours because we get addicted to the hug, hugging each other! Listen, this... Yeah. your moment for tango. Are you ready? SULTRY TANGO MUSIC Good! It felt the tango rhythm, anyway! 'I don't have time to nail the moves, 'but one thing I have got...' Oh! ' the attitude.' That's so rude, isn't it? 'Time to sashay out of here.' This is a little secret of La Boca, because... What, this restaurant? Yes. We're going to sneak the line, OK? Just go with me! Are you sure? Yeah.

'Obviously, there's only one thing on the menu for lunch.' Oh, this is fantastic! 'Steak is another national obsession in Argentina.' Well... Sir, beef and chorizo? Oh, thank you! Oh, wow! Look at the size of that! Thank you very much. 'The average Argentine consumes three times the amount of beef we do each year.

'I don't each much meat these days, but I've got to give this a go.' That is very good. What are we going to do next, because I'd quite like a snooze! SHE LAUGHS 'Unfortunately, it's the wrong time of year to be thinking about naps.' WHISTLES BLOW Oh, this is amazing, isn't it? Do you know what this is? 'Carnival season is about to hit South America.' I just love it! 'And right now, 'it seems like there's a dance troupe 'rehearsing around every corner of the city.' Boedo! Hey! What does that mean? Boedo is the neighbourhood! Oh, right! 'The Boedo Troupe 'are one of the very best in Buenos Aires.

'This looks like modern street dance to me, 'but carnival parades were actually started in the 19th century by the Africans 'who were brought to Argentina as slaves.' The African cultures in Buenos Aires, they were the outsiders, the slavery type. Yeah. In the carnival, they can express their freedom. 'Once a year, before Lent, 'slaves were allowed a day of revelry on the streets.' Even the church allowed people to do everything they wanted! Oh, the church allowed it, too! 'But apparently, this became more than fun.

'The slaves began to dress up in wacky suits and top hats, like these, 'to mock and slight their masters.' CHEERING 'Carnival became a protest, 'and today, parades like this one 'are still used to express dissent.' Even they have lyrics. They protest about things that are not good in the society... Yeah. ..with a very sarcastic humour. We call it humor negro, the black humour. 'This year, the economic crisis is sure to be the topic on everyone's lips.' Oh, Sam, have you seen these ones? These little kids! 'It's a powerful way to make yourself heard.

'Good on you, little man. 'These guys really epitomise what Buenos Aires is about for me - 'people coming together to have a good time, 'regardless of the circumstances, 'whether that's through food or football or dancing. 'I'd love to party into the night with this lot, 'but I've got to dash to Retiro Station now 'to catch my next train. 'I'm leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the city to head into Argentina's mountains.

'I'm going there to find a famous old railway, 'known as the Train to the Clouds. 'The line out of Buenos Aires 'travels 800 miles north to the city of San Miguel de Tucuman, 'but then things get tricky. 'Argentina was once home to the tenth largest rail network in the world, 'but after the economic struggles of the last century, 'the railways started to fall into disrepair. 'The train no longer travels any further than Tucaman.

'It's all old track and ghost stations from here on. 'So I have to use four wheels to get to my final destination, 'but it's worth the effort. 'The Train to the Clouds is one of the highest railways on earth 'and I'm desperate to experience the thrill. 'Coming up, 'I find out what train travel at high altitude really feels like...

'..things get a whole lot better on a five-star train...' Ooh, that is so gorgeous. '..and Peru stakes a claim as party capital of South America.'

Yay! Peru! Peru! Peru! Peru! 'I'm on an expedition through South America. 'From Buenos Aires, I've travelled 1,000 miles 'into the north-western corner of Argentina 'and finally arrived at the departure gate 'for the Train to the Clouds. 'Today, this is one of the most desolate parts of the country, 'but things weren't always this way. '100 years ago, silver and other precious metals were discovered in these mountains 'and a gold rush erupted here.' Hello. Hello.

'But years ago, the last piece of silver was pulled from the ground 'and everyone packed up and left, leaving only this, 'the mine's old railway.' ANNOUNCEMENT IN SPANISH 'Today, people come from all over the world 'to ride the so-called Train to the Clouds 'because it's an experience like no other. 'This is one of the highest railway trips on earth.' Excuse me. 'We're already at 3,800 metres above sea level 'and we're about to ascend 400 more.

'This kind of altitude can do interesting things to the human body.' I'm having to walk a bit slowly and carefully going down this corridor because apparently people chuck up on this train because of the movement and the acceleration and, most of all, because of the lack of oxygen. 'So I'm exploring the train's unique selection of onboard services 'to find something that might help.' Oh, this is good. Little shop! 'Not sure a t-shirt is the cure.' Look, nice selection of booze. 'Or that.'

MAN SPEAKS SPANISH They've got a "sala asistencia medica", a first-aid cabin, a whole emergency unit, with its own nurse and its own doctor. Hello. Hang on, I've got the crew behind me. Sean, how are you feeling? A bit drunk! Really? You genuinely feel wobbly? Yeah. All over the place.

How about you, Chris? I've got a bit of a headache coming on. You see, this is real! We need these guys! Does someone get ill every single trip? Are you feeling all right or a little bit dizzy? I'm a little bit wobbly! 'No chances are taken at this altitude. 'The oxygen in the air up here is in shorter supply, 'so some of us need a bit of extra help.' Some trains I've been on, the height of luxury is a bottle of champagne or some nice canapes, on this one it's oxygen at my hooter! Thank you! Bish-bosh-bash, I'm going back! Goodbye! Goodbye! Adios! 'This sky-high railway was originally built 'to transport minerals from the mountains down to the coast, 'but building train tracks through such steep terrain was no mean feat. 'Construction took a gruelling 27 years to complete 'and inspired some of the most ingenious railway engineering of the 20th century.

'They had to carve curves, zig-zags and tunnels. 'And I've hopped off the train with conductor Cecelia 'to witness something pretty neat.' Why do we need another engine? It's the same engine, we just changed place of the engine. Oh, so it was pulling it... Exactly. ..and now it's going to push it. It was pulling the train. 'Halfway through the ascent, the train stops and the engine swaps ends 'so it can push the carriages up the final stretch.' I love being able to get on and off trains! That kind of manoeuvre is exactly the thing that gets me going! 'Back on the train, we're reaching a dizzying 4,000 metres now.

'And it seems I'm not the only one feeling giddy.' Why did you decide to come on it? I wanted to propose to her... Propose to her? ..a very special present.

Fantastic! Whoa! Can we join you? How lovely! So, you've only known for about half an hour that you were going to be man and wife? Well, gladly, yes! Did you go down on one knee? Two knees! 'Everything's so much more romantic in Latin America!' Did she say yes straight away? I think yes. I don't know! Because you were so nervous! LAUGHTER Well, congratulations, guys! Yes! Congratulations. Thank you very much. 'There's a buzz of excitement sweeping through the carriages now, 'as we reach our peak altitude of 4,200 metres 'and I finally get my first view of our end's destination - 'the Polvorilla Viaduct. 'This is one of the highest railway bridges on earth. 'Today, this is where the line ends 'and us railway tourists are turfed out to buy souvenirs.' Yes, you're very beautiful! I think I'm in love! HE LAUGHS The trains used to go thousands of kilometres in that direction to Chile, and also to extract the mineral wealth down there and transport it to the sea in that direction, but that was long, long ago.

Now there's no passenger trains any further than here, no freight trains, just an awful lot of railway track. 'So much of South America's railway network doesn't join up any more 'because the lines have fallen into disrepair. 'That's not only a problem for travellers like me, 'it's also stunting the trade of food and other goods across South America. 'But there's one railway business 'that's doing very nicely in this part of the world...'

ROUSING MUSIC ..the high-end tourist train. 'I've crossed the Andes into Peru 'to find South America's first luxury sleeper train, 'the Belmond Andean Explorer.' This is a train! It's actually a train! 'Well, more like a five-star hotel on wheels.' Ahh! There's so many little things to look at! Ooh! That's a window. 'Cabins are decked out with every home comfort you could ask for.' You've got a whole chest of drawers. Yeah, they're really soft. Not the old rubbish Lenny Henry gets.

'Mind you, it costs ya!' Lots of pretty postcards. 'A two-night journey in this suite will set you back over £3,000.' I know what I'm going to look at, is the toilet. I like a nice toilet. Ooh! HE LAUGHS Oh, look at that! Beautiful shower! 'Oh, I'd happily spend the rest of the trip in here.'

The fittings are so good! 'But there's so much more to explore. 'This train winds a spectacular path through southern Peru, 'between the cities of Arequipa and Cusco. 'Right now, we're making our way to one of the world's greatest lakes - Titicaca. 'The entire route covers more than 400 miles 'and takes three days.' Isn't that the most beautiful bar you've ever seen? Look at this.

A piano! 'That means there's plenty of time to get your money's worth of the onboard services.' Ooh, that is so gorgeous! This is so weird! I'm in not THE spa treatment room, but one of the spa treatment rooms on this train. But the weirdest thing of all is, I've never, ever had a massage before in front of a donkey. DONKEY BRAYS 'This actually sums up the odd thing about this trip. 'I'm in a five-star spa, 'travelling through a pretty desolate part of Peru. 'Away from the big cities, many Peruvians still earn their keep farming the land.

'The average salary here is about £30 a day, 'so at thousands of pounds a ticket, it's only tourists that can afford to travel on this railway line. 'Our train is pulling into its first stop now - 'Lake Titicaca. 'Situated four kilometres high in the Andes, 'this is one of the world's most iconic stretches of water. 'But it's not the geography that interests me here.

'I've come to meet some local people 'who've somehow built a life on this water.' Oh, you've got a little baby fish. What's that? This is the kingfish. 'I've been invited fishing with Omar and Isiah, 'two members of an indigenous group called the Uros.' It's a trout, isn't it? Yeah, definitely a trout.

'The Uros have been living off the fruits of Lake Titicaca 'since the 1400s.' I've got another fish! He's massive! Hooray! Look at that! 'We caught that just in time to go home for lunch. 'But it's not land we're heading back to, 'because, remarkably, the Uros live right here in the middle of the water. 'This floating network of manmade islands 'is a place 2,000 people call home.' Oh, that's great. Am I safe to get off?

'Thank you, matey!' Shall I give this to you? Mum, will you have that? 'Staggeringly, the islands are made entirely from reeds 'which grow around the lake.' You called this island a raft. Is it completely manmade? Yeah.

Wow! So we make the islands here. We use this plant. And would it be possible, if there was a big storm, for the island to break free and start floating off into the lake? We had a problem with the rainy season and sometimes the rafts, the synthetic nylons are broken and the islands crush to another island. 'The Uros originally moved from land to water in the 1400s 'when an enemy group expanded onto their territory.' Could I have a look inside one of your houses? Yeah, yeah.

'But today, living on the lake 'has also become a means of surviving Peru's rising land and property costs, 'which are making life tricky for the poor.' How many people live in this house? Six people. And they all sleep in this big bed? 'It's summer at the moment, but I can't imagine what it's like here in the winter, 'when temperatures can drop as low as minus seven.' CHILDREN SING 'I'd love to spend all afternoon with this lovely lot, 'but my train is about to depart.'

Goodbye, everybody! Thank you for having us. 'I'm so glad we stopped off here. This community doesn't have it easy, 'but they're still in high spirits and it's so infectious.

'It seems as though a lot of South America lives by this philosophy. 'My train leaves in just 30 minutes...' UPBEAT MUSIC '..but the crew and I are struggling to make it to the station 'because there are a lot of very jolly people in the way.' SHE SINGS IN SPANISH # La-la-la-la-la # SHE CHEERS 'We've stumbled on a Peruvian carnival parade.' WOMAN SHOUTS IN SPANISH Apparently, this isn't even the real parade! That starts next week.

This, believe it or not, is just the rehearsal. 'Titicaca's town actually puts on the third biggest carnival party 'in the whole of Latin America.' Yay! Peru! Peru! Peru! Peru! 'It's a raucous display of dancing and costume.

'The dainty bowler hats the ladies are wearing 'couldn't look more Peruvian to me but, actually, they're a British import.' Do you see all these women with bowler hats? Apparently, 100 years or so ago, the British guys who were building the railways, the navvies, loved bowler hats, so when they came over here, the rail authorities... HE CHEERS ..they shipped over hundreds of bowler hats, but when the hats got here they realised they were too small for the navvies, so the railway authorities sold them to the local women. The women bought them and they loved them and they've been wearing them ever since.

MAN SPEAKS SPANISH Thank you. Peru! Peru! Do I smoke this or shove it up... I am from Peru! ..somewhere! 'I think it's time we got back on the train.

'This place is pretty incredible. 'The area around Lake Titicaca is one of the poorest in Peru, 'suffering from widespread poverty, 'and yet the people here throw one of the biggest parties in the continent.' It feels a bit odd.

I'm standing on this luxury train as we pull out of Titicaca, and I've spent the most wonderful time with people who live really tough, much more rudimentary lives than all the cocktails and nice little nibbles I've got here. CARNIVAL MUSIC It kind of makes me feel a little bit guilty. 'Coming up, I travel deeper into the mountains...' Look, I've got my first view of the foothills of the Andes. '..I face my fears in the Amazon...'

I know the trick is not to look down. Agh! '..and board a special train to Machu Picchu.' This is the life! 'I'm on a railroad adventure through South America.

'I'm currently in the wilds of southern Peru, 'on one of the most luxurious sleeper trains on earth. 'As the sun begins to set and our train chugs into the Andes, dinner is called.' It says in the brochure that dress code in the restaurant car is smart casual with a touch of understated elegance, so this is what I've...

..chosen. I think that fits the bill, don't you? 'These wagons actually started life in Australia 'as the great South Pacific Express Train.' Hello. 'In the late '90s, this locomotive faithfully transported passengers 'between Sydney and the Australian rainforest, 'before eventually running out of steam.' Thank you. 'For ten years, the carriages languished, unloved, in a railway workshop 'until finally, Peru shipped them halfway across the world 'and gave them a new home as the Andean Explorer.' Time for bed, in, really, a bed that you couldn't believe would ever be on a train! Night-night.

'Over the course of the evening, we make our way higher into the Andes 'and by morning we're approaching our final destination, 'the mountain city of Cusco.' Come in! Oh, thank you, Carolina. Thanks. Ah, lovely.

I had a great sleep last night, and now look, I've got my first view of the foothills of the Andes. 'To get a better look, 'I'm heading out to the observation car with train manager Arnaldo.' The Andes is the second largest mountain range all over the world. Yeah.

It covers seven countries in South America. What a great place to put a luxury train! It is. Now, I woke up this morning in the siding and I looked out of the window and literally a couple of yards away from me, there was an old lady, with a massive sack on her back, walking past. It did feel a little bit weird. Actually, you know what, these people, they actually like the way they live. They don't really want to go to the big cities and live in a big building.

They are happy with their houses. They have their farm right outside their houses. So that's the real life of the people around this area and they're not unhappy. There are, look, there's a couple of donkeys there, aren't there? There are farms right outside your window. Corn is actually growing right there, in front of you.

Part of our many areas, it actually comes from here. Oh, really? Yeah. The menu that we had yesterday was made of corn, you know? 'It's been such a privilege, 'and really eye-opening, travelling through Peru's countryside like this. 'But the fanfare is drawing to a close now 'as we pull into Cusco Station 'and applaud ourselves on a successful journey. 'Either that, or this lot are pleased to see the back of me.'

Thank you, guys. That was, without doubt, one of the greatest train journeys I've ever been on in my entire life. Viva el Peru! See, it says it over there, Viva el Peru! It's brought me to the ancient city of Cusco, which travellers from all over the world use as a stepping-off point if they want to visit the Sacred Valley, which is over in that direction, or the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, which are over there. But I want to go somewhere slightly different.

This is probably the nearest I'll ever get to the Amazon basin, so I'm going to go over there to the rainforest. 'I've never been to the Amazon before, 'so I'm slapping on the mozzie spray and heading just east of Cusco, 'to the jungle. 'The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world. 'It spans nine countries across South America. 'After Brazil, Peru has got the second largest portion of it.

'This is where ten percent of all known species on earth live, 'making it the most biologically diverse place on the planet. 'And that's exactly why I've come here. 'I'm spending some time with conservationists 'from the Inkaterra Association.'

Monkey alert! Monkey alert! 'I wanted to discover some of the amazing and rare creatures that live in the Amazon 'and the work that's being done to protect them.' Sam, can you see that one right up there? He's right up high! They are hoatzins. "Watsons"? Yeah. Hello, Watson. 'Conservationist Hugo Boluarte has agreed to take me upstream 'to get acquainted with the wildlife.' Oh, over there, is that an alligator? Yeah, a Caiman.

Oh, God, I can see his eye, bright and shiny! Wow, that's beautiful! So we've got all this activity going on by the side of us, but below us, all I can see is muddy brown water. What is below us? Here we have piranhas. Four species of piranhas, like yellow piranha or golden piranha... 'I wish he'd stop saying piranha.' ..the white piranha or silver piranha, red piranha and black piranha. 'I hope that's all.'

We have anacondas, electrics eels, stingrays, we have leeches. So just about every bad thing you can think of... Yeah. ..that lives in the water,

is under us right now. Yeah, in this water, you can find almost all the dangerous animals that are in the movies about the Amazon. I don't know why I've got a life jacket on. I think I'd rather die quickly.

'Feeling like a piranha out of water, 'Hugo sent me off to meet his colleagues, 'to learn more about how the wildlife here is being protected.' OK, we have one bird here. Oh, where? Just follow me. Oh, it's all tangled up!

Is that OK? Is that a fair catch? Yeah. It's OK. 'Biologists Juan and Noe 'are responsible for monitoring animal life in this part of the rainforest. 'Today they're focusing on the birds.' I don't quite understand. Is this a mistake or is this meant to happen? No, this is the process.

The bird is totally fine. 'They've hung nets around the forest 'to catch a sample of birds to check in on their health.' That's it. Well done. So you could grab it here and try to avoid... Wiggling it about. ..the movements, yes. I think I ought to sing to it.

'Wildlife here in the Amazon 'faces the constant threat of habitat destruction.' It's still fluttering a bit but not nearly as much as it was. 'Industries like farming, logging and mining 'are the main sources of income in this part of the world...'

Okey-doke. '..but they require the rainforest to be cleared, 'meaning animals lose their homes.'

So this is... ..45. 45 grams? 45 grams. A little thing. 'By checking the bird's health, the guys are assessing if human activities round here 'are affecting the wildlife.' No wonder she likes that. I think I would! 'Thankfully, in the year 2000, 'this part of the Amazon was named a protected area.' And the other thing is to do the measurement of the wings.

'Since then, the wildlife here has flourished.' It looks quite healthy, doesn't it? Yeah, it's healthy, huh? 'Year on year, the guys are actually recording increasing numbers of bird species 'in their section of the forest. 'Health check complete, it's time we let this little fella fly back to business.'

Right, little one, ready to go? Ready, one, two, three. HE CHEERS That's such a lovely thing to do! I'd like to do that all day long! HE LAUGHS 'After a day on the jungle floor, 'I'm heading up to the canopy 'to find my digs for the night, 'something that's much easier said than done when you've got a fear of heights.' Agh! I would happily spend the night with a rat, but I really don't like walking across things like this very much at all. It does look rickety and I've got an ant on my hand. But if I get to the other side, my reward is that I get a night on my own, away from the crew, in a little cabin lodge. But it seems to be taking for-bloody-ever.

Yay! I did it! I did it! I did it! I did it! I did it! I did it! I did it! What have I got here? I've got a bed. And most ridiculously of all... HE LAUGHS ..what do I need that for? That's not going to make much difference if I go hurtling down, is it? Ah! Ooh, I've just remembered! There's something else which is supposed to be here. In fact, it is. It's this. It's a walkie-talkie. There's nobody around, all right, but if there's any danger, like if howler monkeys try to get in, or if a snake pushes its way through the door, then what I can do is press this.

Hello? Testing, testing? Hello? Testing, testing? I don't think it's working. 'Up in the treehouse, 'I pull myself together to face a night alone.' Can anybody tell me the Wi-Fi password? 'And down on the jungle floor, the creatures of the dark start to come to life. 'This is a place where ocelots and pumas jostle for space.

'I don't think I've ever been anywhere so jam-packed with wildlife. 'I can see why the guys here work so hard to protect it. 'The next morning, I head back to Cusco 'for the final leg of my train journey through South America.' I loved the Amazon, of course, but I'm really glad to be back in Cusco, not least because I want to get on another train with all that glorious air conditioning! 'I'm finally making my way to Machu Picchu. 'This set of ruins, found high in the Andes, 'is a place I've been waiting my whole life to see. 'There are no roads to the famous archaeological site 'but thankfully, this old railway line still runs through the mountains.

'The locomotive I'm boarding to get there 'is named after the American explorer 'who discovered the ancient wonder.' Look at this! The Belmond Hiram Bingham. 'Machu Picchu is one of the official Seven Wonders of the World.' Morning. 'But it was only last century, 'when adventurer Hiram Bingham came here, 'that we all found out about its existence.'

Which way shall I go? That way. 'I'm going to be following in his footsteps to find it. 'Coming up, 'the train takes me high into the Andes...'

Oh, look up there! Storming! '..I join the herd to complete my pilgrimage, 'and Mother Nature speaks to us at Machu Picchu.' THUNDEROUS RUMBLING Wow! It's an avalanche! 'I'm voyaging high into the Andes 'on the last leg of my journey to Machu Picchu. 'I've boarded a train called the Hiram Bingham, 'named after the American explorer who discovered the ancient ruins.' Look at this beautiful polished wood. All these fixtures. Lovely tables, all laid out.

Oh, look! I'm getting dotty about these! Luggage racks! It must be the old age showing! "Luggage racks!" 'The train follows the same route that Bingham trekked back in 1911.' Now, where am I? 25. 25! 'But his travelling conditions were a world away from the niceties of this train.' Oh, look up there! Storming! 'Bingham was quite the Indiana Jones character, 'an American historian who travelled to Peru 'searching for a lost city he'd read about in a chronicle.

'He spent days and days hacking his way through this brush, 'until finally he came across a local farmer 'who knew of some ruins on top of a mountain. 'Bingham was intrigued. 'But to see them, he'd have to find his way through these treacherous peaks.' It's pretty impressive, isn't it? 'My train pulls into the foothills of those same mountains, 'and just like Bingham did, 'I have to hike to reach the site. 'And it's not just backpackers I share the path with. 'When Bingham arrived here 100 years ago, 'the ruins the farmer spoke of 'were thickly overgrown with vegetation.'

All you could see was a farm with loads of crops and animals, higher, another farm, higher, another farm, but then, when he got really close to the top, he revealed stone walls and he revealed steps. And gradually, even though the whole place was, at that time, 90 percent covered in greenery, he realised that he was in the middle of one of the great sacred buildings of South America. So he took loads and loads of photos and went back to the United States. 'He showed the evidence of his astonishing discovery to National Geographic and Yale 'and it wasn't long before money was gathered 'to uncover the true extent of Bingham's find.' Years later, they got a team together of 50 people to come back here and this... what they revealed! Look at that! DRAMATIC MUSIC I've always wanted to see this for the whole of my adult life! Excuse me if I'm getting a little bit teary but, to me, this is a bit like watching the World Cup Final and having...

..Adele sing at your birthday party all in one! 'It's not just me that gets emotional at the sight of this place. 'Today, Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist attraction in South America. 'And the man responsible for this whole operation is Jose Bastante.' How many visitors do you get a year? Er, 2019, around 1.5 million.

HE GASPS And how many would you like? Zero. Yeah, of course! Of course. Of course. The idea here is conservation. The most important thing is, er, we can maintain Machu Picchu and we can leave it for future generations.

'But preserving this place isn't easy. 'As well as tourists, 'the site's susceptible to earthquakes and landslides.' Why would you build it here? It seems to me like the most impractical place to build a city.

The idea of building the place right here is because of the sacred geography. It is a point of connection with the gods. You can see that, actually, can't you, just standing here? You can see this great circle of gods, if that's how they saw the mountains there, and then right in the middle of it there's this single mountain rising up. 'It's thought that Machu Picchu was built as a summer retreat 'for the great emperor that ruled this part of the world. 'But construction was hugely difficult. 'Vast terraces had to be cut into the sides of the mountain to

2021-01-25 10:23

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